Children’s book author encourages STEAM education to grade school students

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ST. LOUIS – Science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) is all young female grade school students at Woodward Elementary could talk about on Friday, May 17.

More than 100 young ladies walked unknowingly into a gymnasium full of adventures and valuable lessons to learn about a future career in a male-dominated industry.

The assembly centered around Breenae Washington, engineer and author of The Steam Queens, and the magical world she created around her main character, Ivy.

“Ivy is the STEAM queen and she’s everything I want little girls to know that they can be,” Washington said. “They are starting as enthusiastic little girls, growing into powerful women one day.”

Washington briefly spoke about how she was inspired to write the book after not knowing about entering the STEAM field until later in life.

She says tapping into little girls minds at a young age gets them introduced to the field and creates a norm that wasn’t the same for her.

Washington interacted with the young ladies throughout the reading of the book, who in turn had an answer for each question presented on the spot.

After reading the short children’s book to the young ladies and crowning them STEAM Queens, it was time for them to go sample each responsibility of their newly renowned throne.

From learning about gravity with tubs of water and differently weighed objects to sculpting their own crown to building sculptures out of marshmallows and spaghetti, the young ladies took a journey on what each letter of STEAM really meant.

“We were elated to have Breenae come to our school and share her book,” principal Carla Cunigan said. “This was an opportunity for them to not only be introduced but to see that someone that looks like them is an engineer and wrote a book. [So, they can say] I can too!”

By the end of the young ladies’ journey around the auditorium, everyone – including the teachers – received a free signed copy of The Steam Queen as a gift from their school administrators.

What stood out more than the well-planned event was the huge smile on the young ladies faces who will grow up knowing there’s always a crown on their head to dominate the STEAM world.

“One of the students thanked me for putting this together and for getting them a book,” Cunigan said. “I made a difference!”


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