NATURE INSPIRES! by Jennifer Swanson, who was recently honored at the 2018 Green Earth Book Awards

If I had to pick one thing that led to my career as a science writer, I would say it began in nature. I loved being outdoors as a kid. I would go camping every chance I got. I spent my summers at Girl Scout camp, happily trekking through the woods, gathering leaves, and identifying plants. When I couldn’t go there, I camped outside in the backyard with my brothers and we caught fireflies and counted the stars. Days were spent running along the creek in the backyard hunting for frogs and watching tadpoles.

As I got older, my passion for nature expanded. I used tools and technology that weren’t available to me when I was very young. My mother was the one who encouraged me to investigate further with science. One of her greatest gifts to me was a microscope! My first look at the creek water under that microscope was the moment that changed my life. Through the lens I saw AMAZING thingstiny microorganisms, fungi, bacteria and paramecium. These were all in the creek water and I didn’t even know it. What I learned that day was that science is not just something that you can see, it’s EVERYWHERE!

And so I began to notice science wherever I went: Electricity in the lights in my bedroom. Materials that make up the sheets on my bed and the cushions on the couch. Technology that is used to make computers, televisions, and even cell phones.

I now see science everywhere I go and in everything I do. It is what makes our very Earth go around, and yet most of us don’t ever stop to think about it.

My passion for science is what drives the subjects I tackle in my books. From my time in nature I ended up writing books about metamorphic rocks, tsunamis, solar power, and dolphins. My passion for physical science and technology resulted in books about electricity, magnetism, and forces and motion.

Earth science inspired me to shoot for the stars and dive deep under the ocean for Astronaut-Aquanaut. And finally, my love for engineering (also a big part of science), led to books about nanotechnology, robotics, and hybrid cars.

I have endless curiosity about the world and how it works! And yet it all began at a very early age with my love of the outdoors.

Jennifer as a toddler experimenting with balloons in a pool

Through early years playing in my backyard to summers spent at Girl Scout camp, to hiking in the woods, or just hanging out at the creek, I learned that nature is truly a wonderful place to be. That feeling is still with me today, all these many years later. If I’m ever at a loss for something to write or cannot figure out how to tackle a project, I go for a walk or ride my bike. Being surrounded by nature is peaceful, joyous… and inspiring!

What about you? Do you have a favorite outdoor spot? You should! If not, give a few of these tips a try. The next time you go outside. Stop for a minute. Look around you. What do you see?  Trees, plants, grass, a pond? Sure, those are parts of botany, or life science. But what about the sidewalks, driveways, and cars? Those could be part of physical science.  If you look up into the sky you may see the sun, the stars or the moon. That’s earth and space science.

Maybe take a notebook and write down a few things that you notice. Then go and get some books from your library to learn more about all of these things. Make it your mission in life to explore the world around you, after all, science is EVERYWHERE!

Jennifer Swanson is the award-winning author of over 35 books. Her titles in the “How Things Work” series were named in the 2012 Booklist’s Top 10 Books for Youth. Top reviews include a starred review in Booklist, and recommended reviews from School Librarians Workshop, Library Media Connection, and a Nerdy Book Club award. Learn more at


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