Mines grad student writes book to expose girls to STEM

Geology graduate student Rania Eldam started brainstorming the idea for a children’s book two years ago at an Association for Women Geoscientists meeting.

“We don’t see many children’s book series where little girls are the main characters and aren’t pretty princesses or fairies,” Eldam said. “It’s always been so important to me to merge those two ideas. I was the girl that wore princess dresses, but my mom would get furious with me because I’d also be in the dirt scrounging around for plants or rocks.”

Eldam created two main characters: MD (a little girl) and her best friend Finn the fox. Together, they go on adventures and learn how to solve daily problems. Through their experiences, they discover how machines work, how to read maps and what creates solar energy. In each of her books, there will be a different STEM focus and the characters will represent diverse races, ages, and disabilities.

“Rania’s aiming to do something different than other children's books in that she focuses on real-world scenarios and gives children ideas about how to approach something like baking a cake or building a treehouse, while sneaking in technical skills like measuring and matching shapes,” said Geological and Geology Associate Professor Kamini Singha. “She's really pushing something innovative by providing a wide-range of role models looking at applicable problems; I hope it will encourage a more diverse group of kids to think about STEM careers in their futures."

When Eldam is looking for an outlet to deal with the stresses of graduate school, she starts writing.

“I put my head into a 7-year-old girl’s head,” Eldam said. “I want to show girls that no matter what they’re interested in—whether it’s playing outside in the dirt or reading books—they don’t necessarily have to get English degrees.”

Eldam can relate to that. She grew up as the youngest of three children and the only girl. She knew she loved reading and writing, but didn’t know what to do with it. She decided to attend New York University and later, University of Texas at Austin (UT) for screenwriting.

“I had all of these people telling me to find a career and that I could always write on the side. I was trying to find something that morphed it together,” Eldam said.

After taking several classes at UT to figure out what she wanted to major in, she took a geology class and fell in love with the story of how the Earth was formed. In fall 2014, Eldam started graduate school at Mines.

Eldam soon became interested in the fields of fluid-rock interactions, metasomatism and deformation in subduction zones as related to geochemical cycling, stable isotope geochemistry and high-T petrology. In March, she will defend her thesis involving elemental cycling and depth-dependent geochemical variations within the Gordon Gulch watershed in the Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory.

After graduate school, Eldam aims to set an example for young girls outside of her books by pursuing a career in science.

Eldam finished writing the first book in her series: MD and Finn Go Camping in December and plans to publish a hardcover and paperback version of the book in the spring. Her Kickstarter ends Jan. 8. Ten percent of the proceeds of book sales will benefit Rocky Mountain National Park’s Rocky Mountain Conservancy. To order a book and receive updates on her project, visit Eldam’s personal website.


Kathleen Morton, Digital Media and Communications Manager, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu

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Colorado School of Mines is a public R1 research university focused on applied science and engineering, producing the talent, knowledge and innovations to serve industry and benefit society – all to create a more prosperous future.