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Scientists divulge superhero secrets with children's ward and libraries

15 December 2020

A team of super scientists are divulging their super-power secrets with children across the country this Christmas.

The seven academics from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have partnered with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and The Reading Agency to share their secret-spilling book, ‘Unmasked: The Science of Superheroes’, with libraries across the UK and children who are spending the festive season in hospital.

Science of superheroes

Co-author Robert Walsh, Professor of Solar Physics at UCLan and STFC Leadership Fellow in Public Engagement, said:

“Through Unmasked: The Science of Superheroes, we wanted to show how the science of the world we all inhabit can be just as wondrous, exciting and jaw-droppingly brilliant as the explosive exploits we relish seeing on our cinema screens and reading about in our comic books.”

Fellow co-writer Dr Nicky Danino, Principal Lecturer in Computer Science, commented:

“It’s an amazing feeling to know this book could inspire thousands more youngsters to engage with science in a novel way thanks to thousands of copies being placed in UK libraries and in a large number of children’s hospital wards.

“The public’s reaction to the book, when we launched it back in March, was so positive. To receive such significant support from STFC and the Reading Agency for this work at UCLan is phenomenal.”

Superheroes like never before

The fascinating popular science book uses computing, engineering, maths, physics, biology and psychology to explore the world of superheroes like never before. Could you really be as strong as Captain America or fly at light speed like Captain Marvel? Can we build super suits of armour like Ironman or find Guardians of the Galaxy style alien life on distant planets?

The UCLan scientists have even been turned into superheroes themselves across the pages of the book, with each character reflecting different types of superpowers based on their scientific backgrounds.

The project has been financially supported by the STFC’s Public Engagement programme.

Dr Jenni Chambers, Interim Head of Public Engagement and Skills for STFC, said:

“STFC is delighted to have been able to help bring this fantastic, entertaining and educational book ‘Unmasked: The Science of Superheroes’ to public libraries though supporting partnerships with The Reading Agency and UCLan. Public libraries are an amazing resource, the book is amazing and STFC know this will help it get into the hands of more readers, inspiring them about the wonder of science.”

Learning through reading

Public libraries throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive 7,000 free copies of the book. The Reading Agency has coordinated the book gifting as part of their mission to get the nation reading.

Debbie Hicks, Creative Director at The Reading Agency, commented:

“We are thrilled to be teaming up with UCLan and STFC to enable the nation’s children to access this fantastic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) book which has been gifted to public libraries. Research and experience show that children learn by incorporating reading into play. Developing science knowledge through superheroes is a brilliant way to get children interested and engaged in STEM subjects. We know children and families will love unmasking the astounding world of science and superheroes by borrowing the book from their local library.”

Carol Stump, Chief Librarian at Kirklees Council and President of Libraries Connected, said:

“On behalf of libraries across the country, thank you UCLan, STFC and The Reading Agency for the free copy of the fantastic new book ‘Unmasked: The Science of Superheroes’. Four thousand books have already gone out to libraries across the country which we are thrilled about! The book will definitely engage children with STEM, using superheroes and the comic book legends to explore and understand science. A brilliant concept and way of getting children interested in STEM subjects through reading!”

Many children’s wards, including those at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, have already received their copies. Hayley Thomas, Head of Corporate Fundraising at Alder Hey Children’s Charity, added:

“Thank you for generously donating the Unmasked: The Science of Superheroes books for our patients.  Our Play Team was delighted to receive them. New books are a great way to entertain patients during their hospital stay so your donation is really appreciated.”

Further information

Read more information on the book at: Unmasked: The Science of Superheroes.

Last updated: 15 December 2020

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