'The Little Water Molecule'

My name is Joana Castro e Costa and I am a graduate student at the Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University. It is mostly during the weekend that I find time to incorporate scientific concepts into children's stories. "The Little Water Molecule" - my entry for Storyfest 2021 - is one of the children's stories that I wrote and illustrated. It covers concepts such as atoms, intermolecular forces and science history. Most importantly, the story brings to life a water molecule with the goal to befriend children and increase their awareness on water conservation.

By animating a water molecule, the story grabs children's attention to the importance of this crucial resource and how their everyday lives involve water usage. "The Little Water Molecule" story series brings a sense of responsibility in children to save water. The particular story being submitted today is the first one in the series, which introduces the water molecule character, while exploring the laboratory setting. Through this kid's story, I hope to make water a friend that can inspire children to value, conserve and avoid polluting it. Early exposure to water conservation and impact will increase the support that we need to continue on our path toward sustainable use of resources.

Additionally, an early introduction of scientific concepts to the curricula of children better equips them for future skills and sustainable success, because it sparks curiosity and a sense of exploration of their surroundings. I follow the intellectual creative route when developing my stories for children to foster interest in water as an important resource in their lives. In this way, I use "The Little Water Molecule" to introduce the idea of molecular charges as a result of loss or gain of atomic particles. For example, at some point in the story, the molecule loses a proton and becomes unstable, which really means it is negatively charged. The trick is to deliver the scientific terms in the story to the kids in a way that makes sense to them. I confess that some concepts are much harder to explain than others, but I still have fun trying.

When asked about my source of inspiration, I remember my days working in a laboratory as a chemist. The work required careful planning and great attention to detail. So during the mental pauses, I allowed myself to be creative and think up stories about the chemicals I worked with. Now that I no longer work in a laboratory setting, I find comfort in my artistic hobbies such as writing about how a little molecule of water is chemically changed because of her surroundings. The story still needs a few more tweaks, but the Storyfest contest for the 2021 Planet Forward Summit is a great place to test it. The ultimate goal is to publish it and start writing the next science-backed tale involving a group of children helping "The Little Water Molecule" save a river from being polluted.

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