Science Journal for Kids adapts UC Berkeley study to make it kid-friendly

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Science Journal for Kids values the social justice implications of the papers it chooses to adapt, as well as the scientific contributions of women and minorities, noted John Harte, campus professor and Science Journal for Kids advisory board member.

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UC Berkeley researchers and Science Journal for Kids adapted a paper that found associations between redlining and emergency department visits for asthma to make the study more kid-friendly.

This paper was chosen because of its relevance to young people and the Black Lives Matter movement, according to UC Berkeley alumna and Science Journal for Kids founder and managing editor Tanya Dimitrova. Science Journal for Kids values the social justice implications of the papers it chooses to adapt, as well as the scientific contributions of women and minorities, noted John Harte, campus professor and Science Journal for Kids advisory board member.

The study found that asthma-related emergencies were more prevalent in neighborhoods that have a history of redlining, or diminishing appreciation of home values due to racialized property risk assessment policies. Areas that were redlined are generally home to more people of color and have higher rates of air pollution and poverty, the researchers found.

“Although a historically racist practice has been abolished, the underlying discriminatory mechanisms might persist within social, political, and economic institutions in ways that lead to health disparities,” the study states. “Our finding of persistently higher emergency department visits due to asthma in redlined tracts … might partly reflect a discriminatory legacy of redlining.”

Dimitrova primarily selects recent papers from reputable peer-reviewed journals to translate for Science Journal for Kids, she said. Harte said over email that the purpose of the organization is to bring easily readable and understandable articles to kids and to “improve the level of scientific understanding in society.”

According to Dimitrova, many middle school and high school science teachers share these adapted articles with their classes or allow their students to select any article they want to read.

To adapt an article, Science Journal for Kids enlists a science writer, two editors and a graphic designer. The science writer writes an adapted version of the study, which is then sent to the first editor.

After reviewing the adapted paper, the editor sends it to the study’s primary investigator, who checks the paper for accuracy. Following the editing process, the adapted paper is sent to a graphic designer, whose work is again shown to the researchers for their approval.

Dimitrova emphasized the importance of involving the researchers in the editing process.

“It’s a very consistent back-and-forth between our editor and the researcher,” Dimitrova said. “Their priority is accuracy in as much detail as possible. Our priority is understandability and kid-friendliness. We go back and forth until they’re satisfied with the content, and our editors are satisfied with kid-friendliness.”

Contact Megha Krishnan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @_meghakrishnan_.