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Thursday 19 August 2021

Hundreds of children to be gifted UCLan superhero science book

UCLan teams up with Science and Technology Facilities Council to take part in Reading Agency’s Reading Sparks programme

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is working with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) to ensure children from low-income families don’t miss out on fun and learning through science and reading over the summer.

‘Unmasked: The Science of Superheroes’, co-authored by seven practising scientists at UCLan, is one of several books to be gifted to families experiencing hardship as part of the Reading Agency’s Reading Sparks programme.

The Reading Agency is working with libraries, publishers and the STFC to deliver STEM theme gift bags to low-income families across the UK this summer. Libraries will donate the book bags through various partners including food banks and refugee support schemes and it is expected that the titles included in the gift bag will reach hundreds of children.

The UCLan book reveals the scientific realities behind famous comic book legends and blockbusting movie icons. It draws on computing, engineering, mathematics, physics, biology and psychology to explore the world of superheroes like never before.

"It is our hope that with this book we can show how real-world science can be just as wondrous and jaw-dropping brilliant as the explosive events we see on cinema screens or the pages of comic books. "

Co-author Professor Robert Walsh

Co-author Professor Robert Walsh said: “It is our hope that with this book we can show how real-world science can be just as wondrous and jaw-dropping brilliant as the explosive events we see on cinema screens or the pages of comic books. By bringing together a love of superheroes and our passion for science we have created a science book which is accessible to all.”

Jenni Chambers, Head of Public Engagement and Skills, STFC, said: "We are delighted that, through our partnership with the Reading Agency, we have been able to help provide an interesting and diverse range of STEM materials to be distributed through libraries to families facing hardship. At STFC, we know that science and technology is exciting and inspiring. These subjects can lead young people from any background towards rewarding opportunities in education and work. We hope young people, as well as their families and carers, will enjoy these materials and their visit to their vibrant and vital local libraries."

"At STFC, we know that science and technology is exciting and inspiring. These subjects can lead young people from any background towards rewarding opportunities in education and work. We hope young people, as well as their families and carers, will enjoy these materials and their visit to their vibrant and vital local libraries."

Jenni Chambers, Head of Public Engagement and Skills, STFC

Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency said: “Our exciting new Reading Sparks programme is demonstrating the role that reading can play in sparking science engagement across the country, especially in areas with low science capital. This year children and families need support over the summer holidays more than ever. We are delighted to be working with libraries, publishers and STFC to be giving high quality STEM books and resources to families experiencing hardship.”

Fellow Science of Superheroes co-writer Dr Nicky Danino added: “It’s an amazing feeling to know this book could inspire many youngsters to engage with science in a novel way thanks to copies being given free to hundreds families who are experiencing hardship this summer.”

The UCLan-assembled superpowered team of authors consists of Professor Robert Walsh alongside Dr Sarita Robinson, Principal Lecturer Nicky Danino, Dr Catherine Tennick, Dr Matthew Dickinson and Senior Demonstrator Adam Wilcox.

More information about ‘Unmasked: The Science of Superheroes’ is available online.