Cristy Burne

Blending STEM, literacy and creativity to enthuse, engage and empower


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A cracker of an adventure!

I was lucky enough to be featured in the West Australian in the week leading up to the release of Beneath the Trees… It’s a super-short intro to me and to the book, but I really love it. I hope you do too 🙂

Hi, I’m Cristy Burne!

Three cheers for science, creativity and adventure! I write books that mix these super-ingredients into stories that inspire kids to explore our world—and to create their place in it. I’m a scientist, author, speaker, dog-person and lover of chocolate. And I’m so proud of all that our next generation are achieving.

I can’t wait for Beneath The Trees in February 2021. It’s a cracker of an adventure based on a real-life family holiday when our kids were in Year 2 and Year 4. There are raging rivers, injured platypus, laughs, disasters, surprises—and a trio of cousins who must work together to earn their happy ending.

Beneath The Trees is set in sub-tropical rainforest in Queensland, one of the best places in the universe to see wild platypus. How cool are platypus! Egg-laying mammals with webbed feet, venomous spurs and an extraordinary sixth sense called electro-reception… Mind = blown.


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Craft-and-laugh plus Book Nook look

Huge thank yous to everyone who braved the grey and rain and donned their masks to help launch Beneath the Trees into the world. I massively appreciate your time and support and smiles (which I could see even beneath the masks :-)). I loved meeting so many creative kids and seeing so many of my SCBWI West mates – thank you everyone for making my day xxx

Huge thanks also to my kids for helping with the platypus cupcakes and chocolate leeches, to my sister Nic, who provided my colourful homemade mask, to H M Waugh, who made a fabulous wearable leech accessory, to Mum for sewing a giant vampire leech, to my writing buddy Shirley Marr for exploring her clearly considerable illustration talent by illustrating her mask with a platypus, to my Wednesday Weeks co-author Denis Knight for driving halfway across WA in the rain, to the Paper Bird team for providing a gorgeous display and perfect venue and even flowers (thank you Fiona!)…I feel so lucky and so supported. And if morphing the super-launch party into a chilled craft-and-laugh session is the part I need to play in keeping everyone safe, then I can’t complain.

Book nook brilliance – check out the exhibition!

A highlight of the day was seeing all the amazing book nooks in the store right now.

If you get a chance, please fill your heart with joy and creativity and appreciation for just how wonderful the gift of Paper Bird is by checking out their Book Nook exhibition. There are so many gorgeous, clever, heart-lifting and wonderous book nook creations hidden in their shelves, made by kids and adults alike, and there’s even a bunch of book nooks made in a snap over the five days of Perth lockdown…it’s amazing what kids have managed to create in just five days with only what they have around the house.

I can’t help thinking of all the hours that went into imagining, planning, creating, trying and trying again to make these book nooks. All those hours were spent in joy and the creative process, not watching TV or feeling despair. I am so proud of everyone who entered, and especially of the team at Paper Bird for dreaming up and making happen and pivoting when required to gift us all this gorgeous thing.

Check it out and feel the love and explore Fremantle at the same time. Day trip!


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Happy launch-birth-lockdown day! Beneath the Trees is go

Launch day! Beneath the Trees is go

Day 1 of lockdown in Perth and it’s a great day to be on the couch with a good book. So happy book birthday to me! Beneath the Trees is a junior fiction adventure based on a true story and it’s funny and scary and I’m so, so proud of it.

If you’re juggling kids right now and want something fun to do, check out these fun, free Beneath the Trees activities and teaching notes.

And happy book birthday also to three other great Fremantle Press books out today… We can’t spread the love in person this week, so let’s raise a virtual glass and/or credit card to support Josephine Taylor author of Eye of a Rook, Georgia Richter and Deborah Hunn, authors of How to be an Author and to all the contributors to Women of a Certain Rage, edited by Liz Byrski

Happy 5th birthday – and a competition!

A huge happy birthday also to Paper Bird Children’s Books, who turn five years old today. If you’re home with kids and want something fun and free and exciting to do, check out Paper Bird’s Lockdown Book Nook competition.

Tune in tomorrow night!

Tomorrow night at 5pm WST, 8pm EST, I’ll be chatting with supercool Derek Dool author Adrian Beck about Beneath The Trees. We’ll chat platypus and leeches and rainforests and survival and family and friendship and the pleasures and perils of basing a book on a true story. We can’t meet in person this week, so I’d love to e-see you there!

Beneath the Trees is a page-turning combination of true-to-life survival techniques, environmental themes and action, which makes for a fun and informative read for children aged 6+. The perfect adventure story for anyone who’s ever wanted to see a platypus or visit a rainforest – I know I have!” Better Reading


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Beneath the Trees launch!

It’s finally here!!

We’re launching my new junior fiction adventure Beneath the Trees on Saturday 6 February at Paperbird Books and Arts from 3 – 4 pm.

There will be stories, snacks and platypus-themed crafts. It’s going to be FUN!

Tickets are free but you need to book them ASAP from here: https://events.humanitix.com/beneath-the-trees

Cam and Sophie feel like they’ve been travelling forever to get to the rainforest and the river and their cousins. They just want to see a platypus in the wild. But with the rain tipping down and the river turning wild, they can’t see a thing.

Until suddenly, they can.

A platypus is just below them and it needs help! But when their rescue attempt goes horribly wrong, it’s not just the platypus that needs saving.

Read a free sample

Free teaching notes and activities

PRAISE FOR THE BOOK

Beneath the Trees is a great contained wilderness survival story for kids aged six and up … They will love reading this adventure and imaging how they would survive if lost in a forest.’ Books+Publishing

Wow, what a page turner! Couldn’t put it down and raced through it faster than the raging river in the story. Cristy really knows how to grab a reader’s attention and hang on.’ Jan Nicholls, President, CBCA WA

HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!


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Acrostic poem for Aussie Nobel Laureate who cracked the DNA secret of youth

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Elizabeth H Blackburn with yet another medal for her work: the 2012 American Institute of Chemists Gold Medal. Photo by the Science History Institute.

Who doesn’t love an acrostic poem? Today I’ve written just one more science poem …an acrostic science poem this time … for another Aussie Nobel Laureate and scientist: Elizabeth H Blackburn. And that’s because….today is Elizabeth’s birthday!

Elizabeth’s team discovered that telomeres at the end of our chromosomes protect us from aging. Three cheers for that!

Poetry form: Acrostic
The first letter of each line spells a word. Since this acrostic is about the role of telomeres, the lines shorten with time.

To reflect the way that telomeres protect the coded meaning of DNA, I’ve protected the meaning in each line using words formed from the letters in ‘telomere’.

Laureate: Elizabeth H. Blackburn
Elizabeth H Blackburn and her colleagues Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering that our DNA chromosomes are protected at each end by telomeres.

Telomere

By Cristy Burne

The instructions for life coded into your cells like the long lines of shoelaces untied tee term toe tome tore teem tree

Each life-encoding lace protected at both ends by a cap not of plastic but of repeating echoes eel elm emote

Like children in a spelling bee our enzymes race to replicate the coded laces lee let lore

Over and over omitting overlooking a little each time ouch oh omelet

Maybe you’re not fussed about letters misplaced melt molt

Except they protect your essence el em

Resist rot

End

Thank goodness for telomeres, right? And one of the best ways to protect your telomeres is to exercise. So, go on…put down your device and head outside for some brain-inspiring, teleomere-building fresh air and fun!

(Then come in and use that inspiration to write a science poem!)

Want to learn more about some of Australia’s other science heroes? Check out Aussie STEM Stars and help spread the word of our great Australian science stars.


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Welcome to Boola Bardip, your new (and fabulous) WA Museum

Excitement! After four years of waiting, the new WA Museum is open — and it has a new name: Boola Bardip, meaning ‘many stories’ in Noongar.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak-peek through this super achievement last Monday…and WOW! You’ll love it. Your kids will love it! It really does tell many stories.

More than 54,000 people were involved in creating this museum in one way or another. Nearly half a million people entered the ballot for first-week tickets (!! Isn’t that wonderful!!)

As a science writer, I was thrilled to be one small part of the incredible team who worked to create this mammoth cultural treasure. (I worked to help edit some of the interpretative panels in the Origins gallery – a gorgeous space that celebrates Western Australia from stardust to ancient civilisation to today.)

The gallery is amazing. So much detail, so much thought, so many cool ways to interact. Perhaps my favourite interaction is the dinosaur footprints you can spend hours making alongside the massive sauropod, or the chance to watch peacock spiders dance, build with ant-sized robots, touch meteorites, journey through time and space with the WA Museum team alongside to guide you on your way.

So let’s celebrate! This is a dynamic, extraordinary space that let’s us listen to many different people share their experience of what it means to be West Australian… Make sure you check it out, and add your voice to the story.

What an incredible journey, and what a privilege to have been one tiny cog in the story-telling machine. I’m so grateful!


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Kyrielle poem for Marie Curie…More fun with science poetry

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Marie and Pierre Curie in their lab

Today’s Nobel science poem is a kyrielle for the first person EVER to win two Nobel Prizes: Marie Curie…because…

today is Marie Curie’s birthday!!

Happy Birthday!!!

How to write a kyrielle:

A kyrielle is a rhyming poem originally from France. It’s written in four-line stanzas in which the last line of each stanza is repeated. Each line is eight syllables long.

Nobel Laureate – Marie Curie:
Marie Curie (originally Maria Skłodowska) and her husband Pierre Curie won the 1903 Nobel Prize for Physics. Marie Curie went on to become the first person to ever win a second Nobel prize: the 1911 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. What a massive achievement!

 

Radioactivity

By Cristy Burne

 

Maria studied chemistry

She had to do so secretly

But just as well she did, you see

For radioactivity

 

From Poland to Paris she came

She found a lab, she changed her name

She worked beside Pierre Curie

On radioactivity

 

“Far out,” she said, her eyes ablaze

“These rocks give off some crazy rays

“Methinks they show proclivity

“For radioactivity”

 

She tested loads of different rocks

She measured their electric shocks

She worked with objectivity

On radioactivity

 

But one rock rocked her cranium

With more rays than uranium!

She burned to solve the mystery

Of radioactivity

 

Called pitchblende (now uraninite)

The rock contained, to her delight

New elements you could not see

Plus radioactivity

 

“I’ve found two fab new elements

“And proved it in experiments

“And one glows inexhaustibly

“With radioactivity!”

 

Excited by her thrilling find

She kept her nose well to the grind

“The world is better off,” said she

“With radioactivity”

 

She worked non-stop, progress was slow

She cured disease, made watches glow

And then she died, unfortunately,

Of radioactivity

 

Epilogue:

Sadly, Marie Curie died in 1934 from anaemia caused by her exposure to radiation. She was 66.

Her research and discoveries led directly to new ways of treating diseases including cancer. You can read more about Marie Curie’s incredibly legacy here.

 

What do you think? Want to write your own science poetry? Go on! It’s fun!

Want to learn more about some of Australia’s science heroes? Check out Aussie STEM Stars s and help spread the word of our great Australian science stars.


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Double dactyl for Economic Science Laureate

800px-Richard_Thaler_Chatham

Richard H Thaler popularised the idea of Nudge Theory. Never heard of it? Why not look it up?

I know, I know….economics isn’t really science.

But Richard H Thaler studied the psychology of economics. Why do we spend the way we do? How do we decide who gets our dollars?

So, for the love of poetry, I’ve decided to double-down and say that this double dactyl poem about economics is, in fact, an example of science poetry. What do you think?

Poetry form: Double dactyl

The double dactyl has two stanzas of four lines. The first line is usually nonsense, the second line is the subject of the poem, and the last lines of each stanza rhyme.

The rhythm of the first three lines in each stanza is dactylic dimeter (ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba).

The final line in each stanza is choriamb (ba, ba, ba, ba).

And at least one line should be a single word.

Nobel Laureate: Richard H Thaler

Richard H Thaler won the 2017 Prize for Economic Sciences for behavioural economics, where he works to ‘build a bridge’ between the economics and psychology of decision-making. The first prize for economics was awarded in 1969.

Nudge theory

By Cristy Burne

Sellingly, tellingly,

Richard H Thaler is

Building a bridge between

Brains and our bucks.

Why do we spend so much

Unjustifiably?

We need a nudge ‘cause our

Self-control sucks

I love nudge theory!

Nudge theory is all about influencing behaviour, about getting us to act in a desired way.

So, why not learn a bit more about how other people use nudge theory to influence your decision-making? You’ll be amazed!

PS: That was an example of nudge theory, right there 🙂 So, don’t be influenced. Be your own person. Make your own decisions. Go do something you really want to do, like write some double dactyl poetry.

PPS: That was also a nudge. They’re everywhere!

Want to learn more about some of Australia’s science heroes? Check out Aussie STEM Stars and help spread the word of our great Australian science stars.


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Free verse and Einstein: More science poetry!

EisteinToday’s science poem is a free verse honouring the research of Nobel Laureate Albert Einstein.

Back in 1915, Albert Einstein published his work on relativity  — about space and time and gravity and spacetime  —and basically our brains have never been the same.

About free verse:
Free verse poems don’t follow any rhyme pattern or obey any rules.

Free verse may, however, play with rhythm, alliteration, assonance, imagery, imperfect rhyme and internal rhyme. So, basically, you’re free!

Nobel Laureate: Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein won the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his theories about the laws of physics, especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.

His theories of relativity are perhaps his most famous (and mind-twisting) works. And they’re what I decided to write about in this poem…

Thought experiment

By Cristy Burne

Ever felt that the faster you move,

The slower you go?

What if time and space were relative,

And one depended…

What if the light that bounced these words to your eyes

Was part-packet, part-wave, part-particle?

What if watching something change — somehow changed it?

…On the other?

What do you think? It was super-fun to write this super-short science poem. See what you can do with your favourite science or scientist and a bit of free verse!

Want to learn more about some of Australia’s science heroes? Check out Aussie STEM Stars and help spread the word of our great Australian science stars.


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Clerihew poem for Australia’s 2005 Nobel Laureates

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Robin Warren (L) and Barry Marshall celebrate their Nobel Prize win

Thanks for all the fun feedback on my Nobel science poem about Alfred Nobel and follow-up limerick about Nobel Laureate Linda B Buck.

I love the Nobel Prizes because they celebrate scientists as life-saving heroes…and they are!

So to follow up my Nobel poetry, here’s another:

This science poem is to celebrate the Nobel Prize awarded to two West Australian scientists, Robin Warren and Barry Marshall. Their prize was announced two weeks and 15 years ago today!

Poetry form: Clerihew
A funny four-line poem about a famous person. The first line is often the person’s name, and the use of non-English languages (such as Latin) is common. The rhyme structure is AABB — the first two lines rhyme, and the last two lines rhyme.

Laureates: Robin Warren and Barry Marshall
West Australians Robin Warren and Barry Marshall won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering that stomach ulcers are caused by a bacterium. They named it Helicobacter pylori. Over the course of their work, Barry swallowed the bacterium, making himself sick to help prove their research.

Delicious

By Cristy Burne

Barry Marshall

Was rather partial

To Helicobacter pylori

You need guts for Nobel glory

What do you think? Want to write your own clerihew? Or would you rather drink Helicobacter?

(Clue: One of these options is going to be way more fun that the other!)

What do you think? Want to write your own science poetry? Go on! It’s fun!

Want to learn more about some of Australia’s other science heroes? Check out Aussie STEM Stars and help spread the word of our great Australian science stars.