Graduate Utilizes Literature in Hopes of Attracting Women to Engineering

Rania Eldam, a graduate student here at Mines, is combining STEM and children’s literature to pique young girls’ interest in science. While she spends a lot of time working on her thesis, her current project involves writing a children’s book series.

“I was looking for a place that was different,” she said of her decision to attend Mines. Her undergrad years were spent at the University of Texas.

“The point of the series is that it was developed to get kids critical thinking,” Eldam explained. Her first book, called MD and Finn Go Camping, (MD stands for Marilyn Dean) is “the first book in what is planned to be a series.” The books are “written to appeal to all children.” However, Ms. Eldam’s primary interest is getting young girls interested in STEM fields.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of representation of young women in TV shows, books, and movies. While we do have many female characters in fantasy worlds, it is sometimes hard for children to picture themselves in those situations, because they would not realistically happen. This led Eldam to make an important distinction in her books.

“It was really important to base the character in real life,” she expressed. The book comes from a realistic place, besides the talking animals, so that young children can actually see themselves where the character is.

Eldam said “[The first book involves] an actual adventure that they [MD and Finn] are going out on.”  For example, the characters learn how to use a compass and a map.

“[MD] creates a role model for kids,” she asserted. Eldam is very passionate about women and girls in education.

“I’m very involved with women and girls in education outreach,” Eldam explained. Her books were designed to get “critical thinking into a children’s book specifically targeted at STEM subjects.”

She has been working on this project for a while now. “It started a couple years ago… it began with Finn the Fox as the main character.” Eldam is also very experienced with children.

“I was a nanny for 7 years,” she recalled. She also has many parents helping her to edit her book to make sure that the book will be appealing for young audiences.

“I have 2 years’ experience in writing. Before I became a geologist, I was in film school,” Eldam explained.

When asked what the most exciting thing about the project was, Ms. Eldam said, “Seeing how excited other people were.”

The target age for the series is supposed to be three to seven year olds. However, the first book is targeted at a five to seven year old audience. Ms. Eldam’s goal is to have this book published on April 1st.

Ms. Eldam “just finished a kick starter that was successful.” The writing for the book is completely finished. Although she had to hire an illustrator, they are “halfway through illustrating the book.” She has lots of ideas for future books.

“It [imagining] was easy to do,” explained Eldam. “The difficulty was finding an illustrator.” She will also be self-publishing. If you are interested in learning more about this project you can visit:

Erica Dettmer-Radtke is a senior at Mines. She is editor in chief of The Oredigger. Erica is a Statistics major and came to Mines from Boulder, CO. In her spare time, while not studying or working on the paper, she enjoys being outside, reading, photography, and cooking.

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