The Renegade Spy Project by Terri Selting David is a new kind of middle grade fiction book that will inspire and entertain young maker girls and boys. Terri herself is no stranger to STEM having co-founded the Renegade Girls Tinkering Club back in 2015, a non-profit organization in San Francisco that runs summer camps and after school programs for girls and boys.
As the person in charge of content development for her camps, Terri knows STEM projects for kids really well and does an amazing job of weaving in nine projects into the novel. The book also introduces the engineering process and the concept of prototyping in an entertaining way with diagrams and sketches peppered into it. This really makes the reader feel like she/he is a part of the Tinkering Club.
This first novel in her series follows four 6th grade maker girls (diverse characters) who attend the fictional Ada Lovelace Charter School in SF: Wren Sterling, Amber Rosenberg, Kaminia Doyle and Ivy Rose Park. The girls have their own Renegade Girls Tinkering Club which meets after school in the Greenhouse behind main character Wren’s house. When their club microscope is broken, the girls put their tinkering chops into the forefront and decide to make and sell spy goods at school to fund the repair. Some of the projects the characters make are: periscopes, slime, cipher code wheel, secret message kit complete with homemade LED flashlight and UV ink.
All the projects made by the characters in the book are also available for readers to make too. Each project is in a comic book style layout of illustration with clear text directions and arrows so it’s easy for kids to follow along. Terri also does an amazing job at helping kids think further when they engineer with questions like, “how can you make it better?” I love how the projects are weaved into the storyline so you are introduced to the project just as the characters in the story are done making them. In the back of the book, there are some project templates and a glossary for definitions of technical words.
This book is self-published and was a labor of love for Terri who spent years working on it. I found the content and storyline to be refreshingly different from mainstream published books because finally girls were being smart, diverse, working together through minor conflicts and also accomplishing goals through their skills in making. Terri is currently working on the second book in the series which focuses on the character, Amber Rosenberg who loves to sew and design. Kids will be introduced to STEM in fashion/fashion technology in this second novel. (There is currently no set release date for this book but I will keep you posted.)
The Renegade Spy Project is a great book to add to your homeschooling lesson plan and it will also help fulfill any independent reading novel your child may need to currently have for English class. It’s perfect for kids age 8-12 years old and is available in paperback or Kindle format.
Terri has also included one of the projects from the book for our blog readers. You can download the Catapult Project PDF or click the thumbnail image below.