Washington-Area Author Gains Grant to Pen Novel, Expand on Learning for Teens

Edge of Yesterday (www.edgeofyesterday.com), a time travel adventure created by writer and author Robin Stevens Payes, is a digital learning platform for young teens that aims to inspire future scientists and artists, historians and investigators by learning through story.

Rockville, Md. - Sept. 21, 2017 - Robin Stevens Payes wants to use fictional time travel to inspire real-life change for kids getting into STEM. And she's doing it with the help of a Finnish learning model, a French polymath and a school fit for the President's kid.

Payes took a prestigious individual Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County grant to start researching and writing the next book in the Edge of Yesterday teen time travel series.

"This helps me not just solidify Edge of Yesterday, but also bring the themes of the book - STEM education for women and how storytelling can impact learners of any age - to a wider audience," said Payes, a STEM communicator and author.

The first installment, a teen time travel adventure where a girl builds Leonardo da Vinci's plans time machine the school science fair, bleeds right into the second, where the young protagonist Charley is at it again, but this time to meet the Marquise Emilie du Chatelet.

An 18th-century French polymath, de Chatelet floated between physics, math, and philosophy, a consort of Voltaire, and a great correspondent to many of the notables in the Enlightenment in Europe. It makes her one of the great, unsung STEM figures of all time.

"Emilie du Chatelet was amazing: she’s the first to translate Newton's Principia into French," Payes said. "She even paved the way, with her mathematical formulation on energy and mass that laid a foundation for Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity."

Payes continued: "She’s still inspiring women today: I’m learning about Newtonian physics as I am writing this next story about a woman who bucked conventions in her own time."

These are some of the "learning through story" topics Payes is now bringing to St. Andrew’s Episcopal School with the funds from the arts and public programs grant.

"It will be exciting to get students involved, especially Upper School students, in researching this next adventure, but through a greater lens of the Enlightenment—through history, math and science, philosophy and women’s studies," Payes said of the new club focused on STEAM education and storytelling.

This practice of learning across various disciplines, one of the bedrocks of STEAM education that Payes endorses, is a pedagogical approach called Phenomenon-based Learning.

"That’s just a fancy title for organizing everything around a theme, in this case, the Enlightenment," Payes said. "Part of what I hope to encourage is that it’s not just for kids who are interested in literature or the humanities or history. Let’s see if we can get kids who love math, and what does that look like?"

First inspired by Finnish educators, Phenomenon-based Learning takes the best of intersectionality and brings it to the classroom.

That’s something Claire van Stolk, a summer intern who helped her research the new book, has learned through the process of exploring a time-distant world from the perspective of her life today. Van Stolk is excited to bring this insight to her classmates, too.

"In college, I want to focus on history and languages, but I was worried I couldn’t focus on my other loves of science and math," van Stolk told St. Andrews. "This internship makes me feel like I can put all this into whatever work I’m involved in."

For more on the club, visit www.saes.org. To see the first installation of Edge of Yesterday, find it on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble.