Top of the Class

#29 Publishing a Book and Teaching Epidemiology to Fight COVID

January 23, 2021 Crimson Education Season 1 Episode 29
Top of the Class
#29 Publishing a Book and Teaching Epidemiology to Fight COVID
Show Notes Transcript

When COVID hit, so did mountains of misinformation. Armed with a love of science and a deep interest in epidemiology, Stephanie Wang went to work.

At 16-years-old, she has now published a book called Epidemiology Unmasked and with the book royalties, she has donated 1000 masks to frontline health workers.

She is also committed to addressing the root cause of misinformation and has not only taught hundreds of students the basics of public health, she has also written lesson plans for biology students to teach them about epidemiology.

Stephanie invites students to contact her for questions and to be sent her epidemiology curriculum so you can aim to include it in your school.

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Podcast Host  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the top of the class podcast. I'm your host, Alex Cork. And today I chat with Texas student Stephanie Wang. Stephanie has been fighting COVID-19 in unique ways by writing and self publishing a book, teaching hundreds of students about public health, and creating lesson plans for biology students that her school will start teaching soon. She gives fantastic advice for aspiring authors, and invite you the listener to contact her about getting the public health curriculum taught in your school. Let's chat with Stephanie Wang. Hi Stephanie, welcome to the Top of the Class podcast. It's fantastic to have you on. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself? 

Stephanie Wang  00:56

Well, hi, Alex. First of all, thank you for so much for having me. My name is Stephanie. I'm currently 16 years old. And I'm a junior from Texas. And I really am involved in helping improve educational access across communities and doing that in whatever shape that may be. And I recently wrote and published an introductory epidemiology textbook called epidemiology unmasked. And the purpose of this textbook was to help spread public health literacy to students across my community and even beyond that, during the pandemic, because we all know that during the pandemic, we all face difficulties, and some face difficulties and informational access. So that was my main goal in writing the textbook.

Podcast Host  01:40

That's awesome that you have come up with a book in response to the Coronavirus because obviously, like the education side of things has been a real struggle. Obviously, there's a lot of people who have skepticism about it, who don't really know how things like this kind of spread. And you have developed a very strong interest in epidemiology. Can you take me through that and how that kind of started and then how that perhaps accelerated through the Coronavirus?

Stephanie Wang  02:06

Definitely. So I am a member of my school Science Olympiad team and I have been competing in Science Olympiad for about this would be my fifth year. And I started when I was in seventh grade, in seventh grade, I went to my middle school had a very, very good Science Olympiad team. And I at first joined because I wanted to know what it was all about. I didn't really have very strong aspirations. But once I started actually getting engaged in tournaments and exploring different events, I came across one event that really, really helped me a lot in defining my passions and what I wanted to do so that event was called disease detectives, and disease detectives is essentially an event focused on public health and epidemiology. And for the actual aspect of the event, participants basically follow through an outbreak investigation and solve it throughout the entire process. And beyond the outbreak investigation, the testimony also test concepts, you know, like microbiology, disease spread, things like that. And that was pretty much how I really got into this field. And from that event, I learned so much about epidemiology, which is a field of science that I would not have otherwise learned in school, and I probably would not have otherwise even known or really explore deeply if it wasn't for that event. From then on, I began pursuing projects that were outside of the scope of Science Olympiad, but really helped to augment my experience in epidemiology. And that included a research project that included talking to professors in the field. And so from there, I've been really alert to all sorts of public health developments in the world. And of course, the latest one would be the pandemic and pandemic has been pretty hard on the United States, especially in Texas as well. And so I realized, you know, there are some people who may not have had the same epidemiological education that I had through Science Olympiad, and they were the ones who are most vulnerable to being misinformed or taking things that may have been wrong and rolling with it, which can be detrimental to people and to the society as a whole. So that was something that I felt needed to be changed and targeted. And so from for doing that, that's how the idea of my book really came to fruition.

Podcast Host  04:32

Yeah, that's fantastic. What kind of fallacies or misinformation Do you find that you are often correcting that people might have because they might not have much background in epidemiology and for those who don't know, epidemiology? It's a bit of a big word, I guess. It means the study of the spread of disease. Is that right?

Stephanie Wang  04:53

Yeah, pretty much just the study of like how diseases spread in populations in ways that people can prevent and treat the population level.

Podcast Host  05:02

I think it's become a very popular word, obviously, in 2020. It was everyone who was, you know, knew about Anthony falchi, the head epidemiologist in there in America. But yeah, what kind of misinformation or fallacies? Do you find yourself correcting? Or do you find yourself being most pervasive, I guess, within the Texas area that you will like that is just completely wrong?

Stephanie Wang  05:24

Well, there is a wide variety. I think I read a statistic back in June, when I was doing research that over half of Americans have seen at least some form of misinformation online. And definitely that number must be a lot higher by now. Because that was back in June. And so some of the more common ones involve sort of conspiracies about the vaccine, or like questioning the effectiveness of various public health measures, such as math and social distancing. And although scientists often tell us to do that, it can cause people to question whether or not we should do it. And I think the best way for us to do to help each other and help sees the spread is to listen to the experts. And I think convincing people that it's important to listen to the experts and do these various precaution measures that I've been recommended. I think that's the most important sort of misinformation, or trying to combat that misinformation. That's the most important thing that I've been trying to do.

Podcast Host  06:24

Yeah, and it's really exciting. I think that a student of your age and of your experience, like you're, you know, have an interest in epidemiology, but by no means do you have like a degree in epidemiology, but you still saw that there was an opportunity for you to make a very big difference in your community. And you started out with the book epidemiology on mast, which, by the way, I think is an awesome name. Can you take me through the writing of that book? And can you take me through, like how the idea even came about that a book would be a good idea to try and combat this misinformation,

Stephanie Wang  06:55

of course. So obviously, there are a lot of different online resources and things like that. But I, what I realized through my time in studying epidemiology, as a middle school student in a high school student is that a lot of the text that is presented and a lot of the manuals or online resources, they can be hard to read or hard to understand for people, especially those who may not have a firm background in the subject or anything related to the subject, which is most of the population. And so I decided, you know, since I, I recently had to overcome learning this, and making sure I understand everything, I believe I have the ability to make all of this complicated stuff into something that would be simple and fun. So that's why I decided that I was going to write a book. And it was going to be a book that was not another repeat of all the other epidemiology textbooks on there, or the manuals online. Instead, I really wanted it to be something that would be fun to read. And something that would be easy to read, something that maybe even a child or a kid would voluntarily pick up and read. Because I think that's the best way for students to learn is to be happy and be very eager to do it. I know that most students will not be interested in just reading a textbook. So for my textbook, I went through an entire hypothetical outbreak investigation that I made. And it was supposed to be a book where the reader steps into the shoes of an epidemiologist understanding and going over and tackling the outbreak. And so along each of these steps, I presented them with the adequate information necessary to understand what each part of the outbreak investigation is, and understand important epidemiological concepts along the way. So that's basically how I structured the book. And as for writing, I knew I didn't want it to be, you know, very textfield, since that would sort of discourage students. So instead, I actually designed it on a graphic design pretty much the entire book, I designed on a graphic design tool, all 117 pages, and after that, it was able to make the book a lot more aesthetic, and make made people actually want to, you know, look at it, and especially younger students, that would definitely help them.

Podcast Host  09:10

Wow, 117 pages, I didn't know it was that long. And so you throughout that 117 pages, take students through this whole investigation of a hypothetical disease, and then how they might be able to combat it. So it's kind of like you're putting them in the shoes of the scientists who are discovering and combating the disease. Is that right?

Stephanie Wang  09:31

Yes, that's correct. And I did that because I feel a lot that students learn best when they're doing things and not just reading facts, because in school, I definitely enjoyed the more project based activities more than a lot of my friends do as well. So I feel that encompassing this subject as a project based or a problem based activity almost would be more fun for students to read. And that's the bulk of my book. I also have my last chapter that's dedicated on just basic information. About COVID, and things that have already occurred, and helping to inform the readers just about the main things that they need to know about the pandemic. So they can establish a baseline to look at all the other facts that they're presented to them, and evaluate whether they believe it should be credible or not. Because I think we all should have like a baseline to evaluate. And I, that's my goal with the last chapter of my book.

Podcast Host  10:24

Wow, that's fantastic. And I love this whole kind of writing a book journey that you must have gone on. And I'd love to explore that with you a little bit more. Because I think the idea of actually, funnily enough, I'm thinking of writing a book. And I think the hardest thing when you're considering that is knowing how do I start? How do I structure? What is this book going to look like when I finally finish? And then you know, how am I going to get it published? And how am I going to get it seen? And all these kinds of things, and all these questions that come up along the way? So can you take us back? I guess, however long ago, the idea of the book came about, and then take us through your journey of how did you decide upon the structure? How did you decide upon the length was the length that you ended up having the book at 117 pages? Was that roughly what you thought it would be at the start some of those kind of questions that you probably tackled along the way through writing and publishing the book?

Stephanie Wang  11:18

Yeah, of course. So what I did was, I had the idea in around March, that time when the pandemic was first really starting to get serious in Texas and in the country. And so one night, I just jotted down every single topic I wanted to cover, in my book, this range from, you know, basic reproduction number to disease transmission to micro organisms, all of the things I wanted to cover, and then I sorted them in main blocks that I wanted to cover in one chapter, for instance. And I, you know, thought about how I wanted to structure it, should I just write everything, should I just tell people the information, but then I realized, you know, it would be much better if I formatted this in sort of a structure of a disease detective test, and allow the reader to go along the entire journey and learn things along the way. So that was basically how I structured the book. And I definitely did not think it would be 117 pages, I remember starting it and thinking it would be 50, at most, but there was just so much that I wanted to include and so much that I wanted to elaborate on that it ended up being much longer than I originally anticipated. And I also did not originally plan to put the last chapter in the COVID chapter. But then, you know, I thought, well, the main reason why I'm writing this book is to help prevent misinformation and foster responsibility during COVID. So it sort of be a missed opportunity, if I didn't include at least some information about COVID in there. So that was, after I pretty much wrote the whole book, I decided to add the last chapter. And after that, it did end up totaling around 117 pages. So for the publishing process, I explored different routes of publication, usually, there's traditional publishing where the author gets in contact with a publishing company. And then they pretty much do all the heavy lifting for you. But the sort of disadvantage of that was that it didn't really give the author much freedom to do what they wanted with the book. And also, it would take a very long time, the author would also not have as much royalties for their book. And so there was also the other common auction, which was self publishing your book. And for that, I actually felt that it would be more worth it to do self publishing, because even though I didn't really have a marketing, or like a company to do the marketing, for me, self publishing is very fast, you pretty much just upload it, and then you wait a few days, and then you're done. So I feel like time is a very important issue, especially in the pandemic. And I really wanted to get it out as soon as possible because the pandemic was already raging on. So that was the main reason why I decided to self publish. But there was also the other reason of royalties. And royalties are much higher in self publishing. And what I actually wanted to use the royalties as sort of a fundraiser for the people working on the front lines for COVID. So that was another main consideration. And so even though when I was exploring the traditional route, I was able to get in contact with a publisher, or I decided, you know, I don't think it was really worth it. In my circumstance, even though for other authors, oftentimes, traditional publishing is worth it. But for me, I felt that the advantages were sort of offset by the drawbacks. So I decided to go with self publishing.

Podcast Host  14:37

Wow. Okay. So it's quite a journey you've gone on, what kind of resources were you using during that time to kind of figure out your journey through to publishing a book.

Stephanie Wang  14:45

No one in my family really has done anything like of this sort. So I wasn't really able to ask them much for this publishing advice, help. And as for the whole publishing process, I essentially just did a lot of online research and I've just a lot of googling a lot of websites that I browse. But for that part, not really. But for the actual review of the book and making sure everything was credible, I actually contacted a few professionals from the Texas Medical Center, which is located here in Houston. And I was able to get in contact with a few professors, including the director of infection control, MD Anderson, which is the largest Cancer Center in the world, I believe. So he definitely was such a huge help, he helped me look over everything. And then he made sure everything was correct in there. And then he suggested a few revisions here and there about you know, braising and there was also one of my previous professors that I worked with in the past, he also offered to review my book and look over all the information and make sure everything was correct. And so they were also able to offer me editorial reviews. And that definitely helped because it definitely helped to boost the credibility that my book had. And those were my main sort of advisors. Yeah, I also got my brother to read the book. He's currently 11. And he is sort of in the target audience a little bit younger, maybe, but around that range. And he helped me read over and see what parts of the book he couldn't understand. And so I wanted to figure out, you know, how can I word this a little bit differently, to make it understandable for everyone, especially kids who are younger, so those were my main advisors.

Podcast Host  16:28

Fantastic. And in terms of the professor's I think that's super cool, and definitely adds legitimacy to your work? How did you go about getting in contact with them? And then like, how did you go about saying, hey, look, I've written this book, it's 117 pages, would you mind reviewing it? I'm imagining these are pretty busy people, particularly at this time with the Yeah, demick raging? So how did you manage to kind of convince them to take a fair chunk of time out of their day, to review your book and to, you know, make notes and really help you out through this journey.

Stephanie Wang  16:59

So one of the professors, he has a friend who is friends with, it's like a chain, you know, it's like a chain of connections, but I sort of knew him from my parents and their connections. So I emailed him, and then he definitely was busy. But he was kind enough to spend some time a few hours, it wasn't too long for him, because he's an expert in this stuff. So he helped me just look over it. He didn't nitpick, but he just made sure everything was correct. And just offered some advice on where to fix a little bit. But I would say he was my main reviewer. And then my other reviewer. I knew him previously, because he had been my mentor for previous research. So he definitely was very willing to do that. And yeah, since I knew him previously, that helped get him on board.

Podcast Host  17:48

Yeah, well, that's the the power of networking. Right. And I think that's a really big tip. Yeah, it's who, you know, thinking of creating some research and those kinds of things is to if you can contact professors, because it just adds that legitimacy. And I think a lot of professors would probably be quite excited to know that there is a student someone in their teen years, someone who's still in high school, who is keen to make a difference, and it was really interested in their area of expertise. Did you find that as well, that, you know, there was a professor being like, oh, wow, this is like a great initiative by a high school student.

Stephanie Wang  18:20

Oh, yeah, definitely. Both of the people and some other ones that I contacted. They were all very, very excited. They definitely were very encouraging. And were very supportive, gave some very kind words and some very good advice. So yeah, for students out there, I think, if you have an initiative, I don't think you should be scared to contact adults who are experts in the field, because I think most of the time, they will be very receptive and very happy to help in any way.

Podcast Host  18:47

Okay, yeah. No, that's fantastic advice. I'm interested as well, in the cost side of things. And I don't need exact numbers here. But I think it's an interesting question, because self publishing, to me sounds like a potentially expensive thing to do. And I know that you wanted to do that because you wanted to get the royalties and then donate that royalties, as you said, to the frontline, COVID workers, which I think is a fantastic initiative and kind of like, brings it full circle, which I think is awesome. But there must have been a bit of debate in your mind about whether to publish it as an E book, which obviously is, I think, would be lower cost versus an actual book. So can you talk us through a those kind of practical sides of things in terms of the cost factor? And what made you really want to go down the publishing route as opposed to an E book?

Stephanie Wang  19:31

Sure. So it may be sort of surprising to people but self publishing is actually quite cheap. I never actually had to pay anyone to do anything. For me. I think the main expense for publishing a book is the actual printing. So for example, the website that I publish it on, I actually have it on Amazon and on Lulu, but my original publishing site was on Lulu press, and their publishing is actually quite cheap. Their printing is also quite cheap and For the actual uploading the self publishing part, that part doesn't cost any money. But the actual printing for my book, I believe that costs around $7 or so I can't remember exactly. But it's not too expensive. And so they also give you like a base amount that it has to be over, your cost has to be greater than that to account for the royalties and the publishing and my book currently on lose about $9. So isn't really too expensive. So yeah, I don't think the money is a very big issue in self publishing. However, in traditional publishing, it definitely does cost more money. Because when I was originally getting in contact with that traditional publishing company, they definitely had a lot more cost it was in the hundreds. So that was also another factor why I didn't want to do that. But that being said, the self publishing royalties, I believe, they really do pay off because I have been able to get enough money from the royalties to buy 1000 masks for the frontline health workers. So that definitely was a very rewarding experience for me, just to see that sort of work pay off in the form of monetary donation to the frontline health workers.

Podcast Host  21:11

That's fantastic. I'm really glad to hear that. But it's actually your idea is being carried through and now you're seeing the results of, you know, helping the frontline workers get through this very difficult time. So that's fantastic, Stephanie. Now I want to kind of shift gears a little bit towards how you got that book into libraries, because that's obviously like, you know, people can publish a book. But getting it seen and getting it actually, in legitimate places, is a whole new task altogether. And I think a lot of students might say, well, if I'm going to get my book out there, I might have to just hit up social media pretty hard. But you actually said, Okay, if I'm going to get my book out there, then I need to get it in places where people might see it in in legitimate libraries is a great place to start. So can you give us a bit of an insight as to where people might be able to find your book, if not online, and how you got into those libraries?

Stephanie Wang  22:01

Sure. So my book is available in the Fort Bend county libraries, which is the county where I live. And for this process, I basically just called the one of the administrators of the entire Fort Bend County Library System. And she is responsible for dealing with like incoming literature. And she had to look over all my books. And also they have a requirement where the book has to be has to have like at least one reliable review, whether that be on the media, or via like a professional. And so before doing that, I also got a lot of press coverage for the books so that it could get the word out there. And so having already established this credibility, it was a lot easier for the library to see my book and realize that it was credible. And so it took a few days for them to review it and look over it and make sure everything was good quality. And then they basically just cataloged it inside their library systems. And so this way, readers from Fort Bend county libraries can just go online, into their Fort Bend County Library database, and just search my book and place it in hold or, you know, go to the actual libraries and check them out. everything like that is possible now that it's in the library.

Podcast Host  23:18

What's been the the proudest moment for you so far through that journey? Was it getting tick of approval from the professor The first time you held the book in your hand, getting it into the library? Like there's a lot of moments that you can be really proud of throughout this journey? What do you think has been the most kind of aha moment for you where you were like,

Stephanie Wang  23:37

I've done it. Beyond just writing the book, I decided, you know, I have to do more than that I have to make a class or some sort of teaching project where I can actually get this book into the hands of students and teach them the material in sort of a live fashion. And so what I did was I actually held a class with my nonprofit kid teach kid. And we actually got around 1000, something signups for the class. And so I basically for the entirety of the class, I taught them, the outbreak investigation, went through each step with them, and went through the curriculum step by step in more detail. And from that, at the end of the class, at the very last session, I asked them to brainstorm ideas of projects that they could potentially pursue that would help their community during COVID. And so these kids are very, very talented and very creative. And so they started rolling in a bunch of cool creative ideas. Some of them ranged from creating coding classes for their friends. Some of them range to creating informational YouTube videos to help people understand everything better. And so I think seeing these kids have such great ideas on how to help the community and being that my ideas were able to help fuel their passions. I think that was definitely the proudest moment. For me throughout this entire process,

Podcast Host  25:02

so that's your nonprofit kid tasty?

Stephanie Wang  25:04

Yes, it's a very, very similar process to how I decided to write the book, I have a few friends that I have been doing a lot of math contests with for the past few years. And since the pandemic started, we realized that most of the classes were going to be over for the kids, especially at the end person ones. And so we decided to start this nonprofit originally to help teach kids math. And after that, it was a pretty big success. So then, we recruited other students, our other friends to help teach other subjects. And so that's how we started this nonprofit. And that's also how I was able to do my public health class as well.

Podcast Host  25:40

Wow, that's fantastic. So you really kind of made a lot of inroads in this COVID situation, I think it's fantastic. Because a lot of students were probably feeling a little bit helpless, and probably felt like they had a lot of time on their hands. But obviously, like you use your knowledge, and we know we can in epidemiology, and your love of teaching, to turn that into a many different ways to get the information out there. And one of those ways, which we're going to discuss now is a curriculum change. Now, I know that a lot of students would think that this idea is way out of their realm, that curriculum is decided much higher above them. But it's something that you've been able to do over the last couple of months in terms of suggesting it to your teachers. And it sounds like it's coming to fruition now in March, April. I know there's a lot of students out there who would wish to be able to change the curriculum in some way, shape, or form. And you've actually gone ahead and made that happen. So can you take us through that and what made you want to decide to change the curriculum.

Stephanie Wang  26:42

So I of course, was motivated by the misinformation and irresponsibility, the same forces that motivated me to write the book. And you can do as much as you want through activism or educational advocacy, things like that, especially in book writing, and everything, everything that I have been pursuing so far. But I believe the most fundamental way to change the problems that we've been seeing is to conquer the educational insufficiencies from the root. And I think the root of that is the school system. And I know that in my school system, at least, we never really learned much about public health or epidemiology, which was also another big reason why I decided to write the book. But that being said, I felt that it would be possible for me to suggest to teachers to teach this instead into maybe even give it just a few days of class material, just for students who would be interested to be exposed to this sort of curriculum and for them to understand the basics of disease spreads so that in the future, when we may have another pandemic, these students who are in my generation, who will be the adults by then will be very responsible and more receptive, and more immune to misinformation. So that was how I got the idea. And I basically curated a custom curriculum with several PowerPoints, homework, activities, projects, and you know, just handouts, notes, sheets, things like that. And basically, it covers the entire book, but in that sort of form, and like classwork form, and it also does the same thing, it goes over the same outbreak uses the same calculations. And so I compiled them all together, and I approached my biology teacher, and she helped me look over everything, make sure it would be something that teachers would be receptive to. And so then I reached out to my school's freshman biology teachers, because in my school, the biology classes mostly occur in freshman year in junior or senior year. So I wanted to start with the freshmen students, because that's when most students take biology. So for them, I reached out to them, and they definitely will, one of them was very receptive to that. And currently, we're working out the details, but I think it should be able to come into fruition as in they may have like, a few days in a period of time after standardized testing for them to teach the material and do the activity with their students. And so this way, the students in their classes during this time, have a way to be exposed to public health and Epidemiology often for the first time. And I think it definitely sounds more scary than it is. But I think the most important thing to do is is to talk to people who are close to you first, for example, your teachers, and then maybe expand it further because if I am able to successfully get this to work very well in the schools in my school, then I have aspirations to expand it across the district. And in doing that we can just help combat this issue from the start so that we don't have to deal with it as much in the future.

Podcast Host  29:51

I think this is fantastic. And and I think, you know in terms of addressing the root cause of the problem, as you said, like the going back to what is taught in schools seeing if we can kind of get in there early with the right ideas and the right information, particularly for something like, you know, that's so important, like public health, because I think the Coronavirus would agree that the the reason that it's been able to spread so much is because a lot of people just don't understand the science or have been fed misinformation and believe the misinformation more than the experts. So I think, you know, getting that into the school curriculum is a really good thing. But one of the things I'm interested in is, did you create the entire curriculum, the handouts, the slides, and all that kind of thing? And then took it to your biology teacher? Or did you mention to them be like, Hey, I think, you know, we might be able to come up with a few days worth of classes on public health? Can I work on something and then show it to you? Because I think a lot of times, one of the things that's missing, potentially, if students have tried to change the curriculum before, is they just haven't presented enough quality work, and they haven't presented enough quality information that the teachers can look at and say, Yep, I can turn this into a class No problem, right? Like, you got to make it easy for the teachers to say, yes, this would work in a classroom setting, which is what you know, which is what you did really well. And now your school is on board. So it kind of makes sense. But did you go through all that process first? Or did your teacher say, hey, Stephanie, if we're going to do this kind of thing, we're going to need a lot more information before we even consider it.

Stephanie Wang  31:24

So I originally had a sort of pseudo curriculum already, because I have been teaching that public health class for kids each kid over the summer. And I didn't create the entire full blown worksheet curriculum yet, for my potential school curriculum. I first approached my biology teacher and told her about my idea. And she told me basically the necessary things that I have to have in order for teachers to consider it, such as all the lesson plans, the PowerPoints, and the structure that would be the most helpful for teachers. And so after having that information, I was able to sort of tweaked my original curriculum and fit than necessary or fit the necessities that she talked about. And that was how we got it to work.

Podcast Host  32:14

Yeah, I think that's super important for students to realize what kind of landmarks or what kind of points the teachers are trying to teach, because they've got their set curriculum that they're trying to teach to. And if you can create a curriculum that fits in with that, or that makes sense with that, or that complements what the biology teacher or what any teacher is really trying to teach, then there is a lot higher chance of your changes being adopted, or at least being considered. So it has that journey been for you kind of like writing all these lesson plans, and you know, really going to work and creating like a full in a couple of day curriculum on epidemiology.

Stephanie Wang  32:55

It's actually been quite fun, because, believe it or not, it's very, very fun to create things that I feel like are would be helpful to students. And I would say, for students who are interested in sort of, you know, changing their curriculum, or find this public health idea to be good, a good idea to implement into their school system, they can always, you know, contact me, and we can actually I can send them all the stuff, and then they can see if it'll, their, their teachers would be receptive to the idea. But I would say in general, the, the journey has actually been very fun, I would say, writing the book, though, there was there were some challenges, because I think the main challenge with writing the book was the part where I had to tell the whole part where I have to change this difficult thoughts, or this difficult concepts and difficult trains of thought into something that young students would be interested in when loved to read. And so that was something that was difficult because I had never really, when I was learning, I had never really learned with the intention of trying to regurgitate it as a fun learning resource. And so that was difficult. But again, my brother was willing to help me out with that just to help me look over which parts he was not able to understand. And so that was very, very helpful for me throughout that process. But I think, yeah, that was the main difficulty. But other than that, I would say it's been a very, very rewarding process.

Podcast Host  34:25

Yeah, well, I hope it does get taught and and is a success. And obviously, like, there might be tweaks and changes that you might need to make. And it might take a little bit of time for it to be refined. But I think it's something that you can be really proud of that this is potentially the start of a very long lasting change, which is extremely exciting. And I think that's it for students out there who thought that they might not be able to change their curriculum that the curriculum is something decided by people who are much more senior and have been in education for 2030 years. That's not always the case. And you know, you can look at Stephanie's example. And of course, definitely, you've said that students can contact you to get the resources that you've created already. And we'll put that link in the show notes. So if you want to contact Stephanie and get those resources, I would 100% recommend that because I think that's like, even from my interest, Stephanie, I'd love to say it, just so I can learn a little bit about epidemiology, but also see the potential of how this could become, you know, part of a school curriculum elsewhere around the world, because it's obviously something that you know, many students are aware of, because of everything that's been going on with COVID. So it's something that I'm sure students will be pretty keen to learn about. But anyway, what's next? For us? Definitely, you've been doing a whole hate during this COVID situation, probably more than a lot of students would think would be possible during this lockdown period. But what's next for you in 2021?

Stephanie Wang  35:47

Well, I think 2021 Well, I hope it would be more, it would be better for everyone. And I think 2021 is going to be a year where I really tried to get this stuff as far as I can. And that's why I'm also encouraging students from other states, other regions to contact me and we can try to get this into your state as well. So I think this year is going to be me focusing most on amplifying the impact of public health literacy and public health education. And just continuing on the work that I've been doing in 2020. And pushing it even more. And I think in the future, I would like to see, most of the districts in my state or even most of the schools in my state adopt a similar lesson plan adopted a similar curriculum that they would be using for their students, because I think if there's anything that we learned from this pandemic, is that anything can happen at any time. And we should all work to be well prepared for future incidents like this, and be well prepared to prevent the detriments that we've seen this time around. And so I think, for me, my work would be just to help spread the message more help get more students interested in public health, whether that be in teaching classes, or hosting workshops, or speaking on podcasts like this one, and helping to spread the message to today's youth into adults who are also willing to help with the spreading of the message.

Podcast Host  37:18

Yeah, and hopefully the message can be spread faster than any virus, that's for sure. And, yeah, and in terms of college, because obviously Crimson education support students to get into world leading universities, I just saw the Oxford acceptances came out. And we've got a lot of students from Crimson who are heading there, which is very exciting. But what would be your kind of goal in terms of getting into colleges around there in the US, obviously, there's some fantastic universities in Texas. But is there anything in particular that you're looking at?

Stephanie Wang  37:48

Yeah, I think my dream school just from when I was perhaps in middle school was always MIT because it's very stem focused school. And I've been on that campus many, many times throughout the past few years for competitions. And especially last year, I went there for a Science Olympiad competition, it was a beautiful campus, and they just seemed like such a great community. I think that's probably the school that I most want to get into. Of course, I would apply to a lot of there are a lot of great in state schools in Texas, like rice, and UT. But beyond that, I think, I haven't really given much too much thought into college yet, even though I should be probably since I'm applying this year. And yeah, I think we'll see. Because I really hope MIT is a place that I get into. Well, yeah, I

Podcast Host  38:37

know that that is super competitive MIT. So for those of you I know that you might be a fan of Marvel cinema. I know Tony Stark, I think was a student there or has connections there. And Spider Man as well. Peter Parker, that's when I whenever I'm trying to describe MIT to students here in Australia, and they'll be like, Oh, you just sounds like a stem University. I'm like, Yeah, it's a stem University. But like, this is the kind of university that Peter Parker and Tony Stark go to right like it is. Next Level kind of STEM. So yeah, surprise, right. Yeah, it's a fantastic campus VIII visited there in January of 2020. As well, they are unabashedly nerdy. I think that's what the tour guide says. We are 100% nerds. And we are very much like believe that that's who we are and who we want to be. And I think it's like a really cool culture. We actually had the student body president of MIT on a previous episode, Danielle? Yeah. Give that a listen. Because she shared her insights into what life is like they're at MIT

Stephanie Wang  39:37

and MIT snowed as well. And it never really floats knows where I live. So that would be great to see ya. Winter.

Podcast Host  39:43

Well, I did ask Danny Oh, what is the coldest she's ever been? Because she was originally from Florida. And she said they stayed in the research labs for too long and it was quite a long walk to their dorms. And she said like it was an absolute Blizzard outside and she said, that's the She's ever been. So if you like the snow, it might be a novelty factor there for the first year or so. But I think it might quickly wear off. I think that's what I've generally heard is that it's exciting for the first time and then not so exciting thereafter. But I'm sure it'd be an amazing experience to be among all those amazing students and right next to Harvard as well. So for people who don't know where MIT is, it's literally like one bus stop away from the grounds of Harvard. So you'll meet a lot of lovely, very, very clever people up there in Boston, which is fantastic. Now, Stephanie, you did say that people who contact you, what's the best way for people to get in touch with you?

Stephanie Wang  40:36

I would say email would be the best because I check my email very often. And yeah, it's Stephanie dot Wayne 2000 And of course, you can just link it in the description as well.

Podcast Host  40:47

I will put it in there for sure. Well, Stephanie, it's been awesome chatting, I think it's super inspiring for students who are interested in writing books, are we interested in making a change during COVID, who are interested in making a change in their curriculum, I do hope students who are interested in biology, particularly take you up on that fact to get the resources that you would make available. I think we won't leave that in the description because I think it's probably the right thing to do for people to actually contact you about that. So yeah, I would recommend students do that. And hopefully we can get this these messages and your book and your classroom, lesson plans, etc. and we can get that far and wide around the world, which would be fantastic.

Stephanie Wang  41:27

Thank you so much, Alex. Thank you. I really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you so much again,

Podcast Host  41:32

wasn't wasn't thanks so much. Thanks for listening to top of the class. subscribe for future episodes for show notes and to plan your best future head to Crimson