Join us in this awesome episode of What’s It All About? as we delve into the world of Thomas Bernard, the co-founder of QuestFriendz and the driving force behind the SuperQuesters series. Join us as he unravels the fascinating origins and dynamic objectives of their STEM-focused children’s publishing venture.
Who are you, what is your role and how did QuestFriendz and the SuperQuesters series come to fruition?
Hi, I’m Thomas Bernard, and I’m a co-founder of QuestFriendz and a co-author of the SuperQuesters series, together with my wife Lisa Moss.
QuestFriendz is a new children’s publisher on a mission to inspire a lifelong love of STEM through unique, interactive storytelling.
My love for STEM topics started from a young age. I grew up in France and was inspired by my grandfather to have a curiosity for science, technology, and discovering the world around me. This was something he helped to nurture in me from a young age. This led to a love of coding and, over time, led to the opportunity to pursue degrees in Physics, Mathematics, and Engineering, along with a PhD in Computer Engineering.
I initially noticed the lack of female representation in STEM during my postgraduate (PhD) studies at the University of Amsterdam. As a lecturer for undergraduate engineering and computer science programs, I noticed that there was a very low female representation both in the classes and at conferences I was attending at the time.
The idea for QuestFriendz was initially sparked back in 2018 when our twin daughters were 3 and a half years old. Given my STEM background and my daughters’ eagerness to learn and keep busy from a young age, we were looking for screen-free resources that would nurture and develop their curiosity and help to develop foundational STEM skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking. We looked across toys, games, and books but found very limited options for this younger age range. And most were limited, depicting stereotypical lead characters or role models such as young boys in white lab coats.
“This inspired us to eventually launch QuestFriendz and create the SuperQuesters series, which features diverse and aspirational yet relatable superhero characters, to help change children’s perceptions about science and engineering.”
Can you tell us more about QuestFriendz and the SuperQuesters series?
QuestFriendz develops children’s STEM-themed books and resources for children aged 4+ years old. Our SuperQuesters books are designed for use within the home (either independently or shared with a parent, sibling, or friend) or within an education setting (either in the classroom or in an after-school club such as Rainbows, Brownies, Scouts, or local coding clubs).
The SuperQuesters series inspires a love of STEM learning in children aged 4+ through a unique blend of adventure stories and interactive play. Children read the book, solve the quests using stickers, and learn STEM skills in immersive ways never done before.
Each interactive storybook includes hands-on activities and is expertly designed in line with the Key Stage 1 and early Key Stage 2 Computing, Maths, and Science National Curriculum to help children develop their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills in innovative new ways. Children develop over 12 different STEM skills in each book, including problem-solving, coding, sequencing, debugging, and algorithms as they complete each interactive quest and discover their inner superhero along the way.
What does QuestFriendz and the SuperQuesters series bring to STEM?
The SuperQuesters series combines dynamic storytelling with interactive hands-on STEM learning activities, providing stealth learning opportunities, where children develop core STEM skills sometimes without even realizing it. Over 12 different STEM skills are developed in each book, including coding, sequencing, algorithms, and troubleshooting. Children learn to apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to tackle expertly-pitched puzzles called ‘STEM quests’ as they are immersed in a magical adventure. The SuperQuesters features diverse and inclusive role model characters who show that with clear thinking, logic, and patience, anything is possible, helping to promote life skills, including creativity, teamwork, and resilience. Parents and teachers love the SuperQuesters, as it encourages learning through play and helps to develop a love of reading, even for the most reluctant readers, as they are immersed in interactive adventure stories. Teachers also love that each book and companion classroom resources have been developed to cover key aspects of UK KS1 Computing, Maths, and Science national curriculum, making it easy for teachers to start covering STEM topics, including computing in KS1 classes.
“We love that we are helping to inspire children’s interest in STEM and helping them to develop interest and self-confidence in their abilities from a young age during some of the critical development years. Seeing and hearing from children, parents, and teachers directly about the impact our books and resources are having directly on children, including those from marginalised groups, makes this invaluable.”
What is in store next for the SuperQuesters?
We have several new publications coming out in the SuperQuesters series which we are very excited about. The next two books in the series, SuperQuesters: The Case of the Great Energy Robbery (out 5th October 2023) and SuperQuesters: The Case of the Angry Sea both cover STEM learning together with a focus on environmental themes such as renewable energy sources, ocean conservation and recycling.
What feedback and reviews have you received?
We’ve received an overwhelming number of wonderful reviews for the books and classroom resources in the SuperQuesters, ranging across parents, children, teachers, librarians, industry experts and reviewers. You can read some of these reviews here.
We’ve also received very insightful feedback from teachers and librarians across the UK who have used the SuperQuesters books and resources in schools. We’ve partnered with some of these educators to create case studies to share their experiences with other educators. You can read our case studies here.
Read about how Stuart Naismith, PSTT Science Teacher of the Year, experienced SuperQuesters at Gartcosh Primary School here.
Read about how Erin Hamilton, Trust Reading Lead, experienced SuperQuesters with Reception and Year 1 classes at Stutton Primary School here.
How do we get the SuperQuesters series?
QuestFriendz publishes children’s books and classroom resources, which are available to purchase both online and through all well-regarded retailers and educational suppliers in the UK. SuperQuesters books retail for £7.99. We also provide free downloadable activity sheets on www.questfriendz.com, as we are committed to helping to make STEM learning accessible to all children.
SuperQuesters: The Case of the Stolen Sun
SuperQuesters: The Case of the Missing Memory – Shortlisted for The Week Junior Book Awards 2023: Children’s Book of the Year – STEM category
SuperQuesters: The Case of the Great Energy Robbery- out 5 October 2023
SuperQuesters: The Case of the Angry Sea – coming in 2024
Head to www.questfriendz.com for more information on our SuperQuesters books, classroom resources and free downloadable activity sheets.
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