Vlog with Alom Shaha
Adrian Bethune interviews teacher, film-maker and author, Alom Shaha, about his brand new book Mr Shaha's Marvellous Machines.
Alom is a Physics teacher at a comprehensive school. When he's not teaching, he works as a
writer, film-maker, and science communicator. He's the author of several books, including The Young Atheist’s Handbook, Mr Shaha’s Recipes for Wonder, and Mr Shaha’s Marvellous Machines. Alom is currently working on a popular science book for adults which should be published in 2022, as well as his first storybook for children. He has also co-authored GCSE and A-level revision guides for OUP.
Adrian first came across Alom's work when he bought his son Mr Shaha's Recipes For Wonder during Lockdown 1.0, April 2020. The book was a real life-saver in those days when you were confined to your house for almost 24 hours and he and his son loved doing the experiments! It was a real pleasure to catch up with Alom and find out about his brand new book!
Where does your passion for science come from?
Alom grew up as a young boy without much 'science capital'. That is, he didn't have much exposure to scientific knowledge through TV programmes or books at home. It was only when he got to secondary school and certain teachers not only sparked his interest in the subject but also showed him that science belonged to people like him.
What is your new book Marvellous Machines about?
Alom has always wanted to help parents be their child's 'first science teacher'. His first children's book, Recipes For Wonder, focused on teaching scientific principles in a fun and engaging way, and Marvellous Machines focuses more on engineering and making. It teaches children how to make toys and machines out of everyday household objects to show that you don't need to always buy new things. But this is more than just a a book about science or engineering. This is a book that teaches children about the 'joy of making' and Adrian is convinced that children doing these activities with their parents will enhance everyone's wellbeing! Mr Shaha's Marvellous Machines is out on 8th July.
What's the best way to teach science in schools?
Teachers are always on the look out for ways to refine and improve how they teach. As an experienced science teacher, we asked Alom if there was an ideal way to teach science to children to develop their scientific curiosity of the world. Is it about letting children experiment and get 'hands on' as he explores in his book, or do children need more 'direct instruction' from expert teachers? Alom shares his views on the matter.
Why are diversity and inclusion important to you?
Alom grew up in Bangladesh and came to the UK as an immigrant and lived in relative poverty for the early part of his life. It's informed a lot of his work and views on some of the pressing issues for society - namely, the growing divide between the rich and the poor. One way that Alom tries to address this is by making his work freely available. Every machine from his new book can be accessed for free via video tutorials online. His children's books are also written and illustrated so that every child can recognise themselves in them and realise that science and engineering is for everyone.
Let's make a machine!!
Marvellous Machines is not a book designed just to be read, it's to help you and your children discover the 'joy of making'! In this video, Alom shows you how to make one of the machines from his new book - a rather special type of paper aeroplane called a 'soaring cylinder'! All you need in a sheet of paper and some sticky paper! What are you waiting for? Go and get making!!!
Adrian is a primary school teacher and author of Wellbeing in the Primary Classroom – A Practical Guide to Teaching Happiness and co-author of A Little Guide To Teacher Wellbeing & Self-Care.