WASHINGTON, March 30, 2011 - Today, a panel of children's literacy and science education experts were on Capitol Hill to champion a new approach to STEM education that will make these critical disciplines more accessible to young people. Introducing The Curious Adventures of Sydney and Symon in: Water Wonders, a new STEM-meets-literacy resource for children ages 6-8, the National Writing ProjectReading Is Fundamental, and FableVision outlined the importance of their collaborative effort, and provided examples of how Water Wonders is currently being used in children's literacy programs nationwide. Water Wonders is an original chapter book featuring young scientists, Sydney and Symon Starr, a sister and brother team who love creative problem-solving and sharing what they discover through writing, art and song. The book introduces the arts to STEM education through various activities that encourage readers to experiment and solve problems on their own as well as through suggestions for further reading. The science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) approach to learning delivers and encourages the "Four Cs" for 21st Century Readiness framework: critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. Written and illustrated by FableVision's Founder Peter H. Reynolds, who is also a New York Times best-selling children's book author and illustrator (The DotIshThe North StarJudy MoodySomeday), and his brother Paul Reynolds, the book is available in English and Spanish through a print and interactive edition.

"Sydney and Symon are the perfect ambassadors to inspire children to learn about the world around them," said Sharon J. Washington, executive director of the National Writing Project. "Using writing and reading to solve problems and share new ideas are key ingredients to student achievement in STEM disciplines."

Washington was joined on today's panel by Carol H. Rasco, RIF president and CEO; Paul Reynolds, FableVision CEO; teacher Kim Douillard of the San Diego Area Writing Project; Jason King, president of Turning the Page; and Mark St. John, president, Inverness Research.

"We know that tapping a child's innate curiosity and creativity is a compelling and proven strategy for effective teaching and learning," said Paul Reynolds, CEO of FableVision. "By engaging children at an early age and giving them multiple pathways to explore and express their interest and knowledge in these important disciplines, the Water Wonders approach will invite and enable more students to develop an interest in STEM."

Moving American students from the middle tier to the top tier of achievement in science and math over the next decade is a goal that has been set by President Obama as part of the "Educate to Innovate" campaign. According to the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), 17 countries had higher math scores and six countries had higher reading scores compared to the United States. In an innovation economy, inspiring greater interest in STEM disciplines is essential and a top priority for educators, policy makers and employers across a broad range of fields.

"Through our collaboration, we have created an engaging resource to inspire the next generation of inventors and innovators," said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental.