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Norfolk scientist turned children's author scoops national prize

PUBLISHED: 12:04 16 January 2019

Norfolk scientist turn children’s author Amanda Hartley has won the Association for Science’s Education Book Award. Picture: Amanda Hartley

Norfolk scientist turn children's author Amanda Hartley has won the Association for Science's Education Book Award. Picture: Amanda Hartley

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A former scientist turned children’s author has seen her first book scoop a prestigious national prize given to titles that find innovative ways to inspire youngsters about science.

Norfolk scientist turn children’s author Amanda Hartley's The DNA Detectives books that have helped her win the ASE Book Award. Picture: SJH PublishingNorfolk scientist turn children’s author Amanda Hartley's The DNA Detectives books that have helped her win the ASE Book Award. Picture: SJH Publishing

Dr Amanda Hartley, founder of New Buckenham-based The Little Story Telling Company which helps inspire children with a love of literacy and science, has seen her book The DNA Detectives - To Catch a Thief win the Association for Science’s Education Book Award.

Her book was among four that had been shortlisted for the award that is given to books that that provide an innovative hook or something that goes beyond the traditional school science curriculum.

Mrs Hartley, who has a degree in pathology and a PhD in genetics but who did a career change to set up her education company, said winning the ASE Book Award was a dream come true.

Norfolk scientist turn children’s author Amanda Hartley being presented with the ASE Book Award. Picture: Amanda HartleyNorfolk scientist turn children’s author Amanda Hartley being presented with the ASE Book Award. Picture: Amanda Hartley

She said; “When my name was announced my eyes filled with tears. I was told at school that I wasn’t very good at English and could I try and write more like my friend. I think it goes to show you that things can change and that dreams can come true.”

Mrs Hartley has since published follow-up book titled The DNA Detectives - The Smuggler’s Daughter. Both are linked to school science and literacy curriculums but also help children to understand DNA, inheritance, cells, chromosomes and genes.

She said: “The books introduce children to forensic science and how scientists work in laboratories. At one point the children break into their mother’s lab and extract DNA. They have to work methodically and then use the data to try and work out who the pet thief is.

The DNA workshop run by Mandy Hartley at Old Buckenham Village Hall. Picture: Jonathan HartleyThe DNA workshop run by Mandy Hartley at Old Buckenham Village Hall. Picture: Jonathan Hartley

“It has been really exciting to see how schools are using the books either as a class text or for individual reading. Some have used the book as a hook for science week. They created a crime such as the school cup being stolen and the children had to interview the staff and collect and analyse evidence to find out the identity of the thief.”

The Little Story Telling Company regular holds workshops teaching children as young as four about DNA in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

“I have had such a wonderful career working with DNA and this inspired me to want to share this with children,” she said. “I am limited however, in how many children I can reach. When a friend suggest that I write a book I realised I could use this to reach children all around the world. If I can inspire our next generation of scientists using my books then my work is done!”

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