Ciencia-me un Cuento / Science-me a Story is a compilation of short science stories for children written in English and Spanish. The book is already available for free download!

On the 10th of November, the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK/CERU) presented at the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid their book Ciencia-me un Cuento / Science-me a Story.

Since 2018 SRUK/CERU has been running a writing competition with the aim of promoting scientific outreach in a fun and engaging way appropriate for primary school children. The ultimate goal of the contest is to promote the scientific spirit and inspire the next generation that will later build our future. They hope to achieve this through the communication of scientific achievements, findings, methods, and anecdotes in the form of short stories. The competition has become very popular all around the world; the 2020 edition had 237 participants from 42 different countries!

The just-released book is a unique compilation of the prize-winning stories from the first three Science-me a Story competitions. All the stories appear side-by-side in English and Spanish, making this book a perfect way to learn not only science but also English and/or Spanish. This initiative is sponsored by Fundación Lilly and has the support of Principia, the University of Liverpool and the Instituto Cervantes in Manchester. The book has been edited by Penguin and illustrated by SRUK/CERU volunteers.

You can download a free PDF copy of the book HERE.

Prologue of the book, by Bárbara de Aymerich Vadillo

Mum, science-me a story! Mum, science-me a story! She begged me to science-her a story every second we spent together —morning, noon and night— so much, in fact, that my words became theorems that intended to clarify the enigmas of life from the colour of her glass; a translucent glass steamed up by a childhood fog, but through which the light of science itself penetrates.

Walking hand in hand with her was always an adventure, but as her questions dived deeper in her need to learn, those walks became more intriguing, more fascinating. Everything awed her, every step was different, had more complex and harmonious rhythms. The breeze in her hair stopped being a game in which the wind tossed those golden curls and became two opposing forces. The leaves changing colours with every season was no longer magic or something to be painted; it was a question that needed to be resolved in the short time it took us to walk home after school. Why clouds form shapes, why dragonflies hover over their reflections in ponds, why planes leave trails in the blue sky, which should be as colourless as air, why rose petals leave a scent on one’s hands, why stones bounce when you throw them over still water… Dodging the truth with vague answers didn’t work. All it did was reinforce her curiosity and impatience. The salty taste of tears, the stench of death, darkness, shadow, fog. What if fire were cold? What if the Earth rotated around the moon? If all the water on the planet evaporated at the same time—would it all rain down at once?

My silences felt uncomfortable for us both. They made her feel uneasy. As for me, at times I felt impotent, at other times aware of my ignorance. Our conversations became more intense every day. I rediscovered the wonder of the sunrise in her curious eyes, questioned the scorn of magpies when they fall with their wings closed, marvelled at the hardworking nature of bees, travelled into black holes to try and see their effects, anchored myself to the seabed and hide from giant sea creatures, and chased after paper kites, shaped like diamonds on a pack of cards. Not knowing all the answers didn’t make me a worse mother, but a better thinker, a better investigator, a better saboteur of doubts. Finding solutions to her questions planted the seed of challenge that faced my fears and apathy, and prolonged our walks together, awakened my sluggish brain, and fell in love with her even more, if that was even possible. Asking, discovering, experimenting, reasoning, contrasting, disseminating, divulging, formulating, loving… Something beautiful was happening: SCIENCE WAS BEING BORN.

There, with that confession made and with the need to find answers to the questions posed every day by my daughters, my students, my young scientists, I would like to present this book that you now hold in your hands: a volume of knowledge, deduction, curiosity, magic, imagination, creativity and colour. Science is often considered a complicated subject that is somehow separate from the world and from our emotions. It seems to sit above us on a throne of stone, inscrutable and unscathed. But science is not that. Science is a bunch of flowers, a blue sea filled with fish, a chill, a spire on a cathedral, a tornado, a rainbow, a sickness and a cure, a dive into a swimming pool, a baby being born, a heart that stops… Science is factual, observable and real, but it can be told as a story; it should be told as a story. Science is in all of us and everything around us, and it should reach all of us and everything that surrounds us. And the gentle, enthusiastic, colourful, dynamic, kind, subtle and beautiful language of stories is a powerful tool to achieve it.

Each one of these pages is impregnated with curiosity, research, and scientific fact, but never at the expense of the inventiveness, the universality, the empathy and the hunger for more that every children’s book requires. For all this when night falls and the thirst for knowledge glows behind your children’s drooping eyelids, open the pages of this book, sit down and accompany them on their voyage of discovery, SCIENCE-THEM A STORY. One story won’t be enough!