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Renowned author speaks science with students

The cover of Joan Marie Galat's new book 'Too Much Trash' about the impact of litter on animals. Joan Marie Galat photo

Nicholas L. M. Allen

Oct 25, 2023

Joan Marie Galat was recently at the schools of the Crowsnest Pass speaking to kids from kindergarten to Grade 9 promoting science and her new book.

“One of the teachers thanked me because she said it’s nice for children to see a woman talking about science,” said Galat.

Her science-themed literacy presentation is part of a tour called ‘Onwords and Upwords,’ which is a series of tours across rural Alberta. The visit is funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Young Alberta Book Society, a non-profit that promotes literacy. 

Galat stated, “I think kids benefit from knowing that authors come from their communities. I live in Alberta, and I can tell stories they can relate to.”

Most of Galat’s books are non-fiction, but her two most recent books are fiction, including her first novel, ‘Mortimer: Rat Race to Space.’ She described the book, saying, “[Mortimer] wants people to respect his species. He lives in a lab in Houston at NASA... He just feels like astronauts are ridiculous, they’re sending things to space that rats would never need if they were part of the space program, and he thinks that rats should colonize Mars.”

In ‘Mortimer,’ the lab rat’s adventures include starting a YouTube channel and finding his way to the International Space Station. 

“[Mortimer] has to make some decisions about doing the right thing, whether it’s more important for rats to rule Mars or whether he should solve the problems that he’s caused with his friendships, and he might have to make a decision that even saves an astronaut’s life,” explained Galat.

To research the novel, she visited NASA, talked to astronauts, and went on a behind-the-scenes tour. She shared, “I went to a space educators conference; I watched a SpaceX Falcon rocket take off. I really did my research. I’m pretty excited about promoting that book and sharing it with young readers ages nine and up.”

She also has a recent book called ‘Too Much Trash,’ which highlights the issue of litter and its impact on animals. Galat commended efforts to tackle this problem, stating, “It really bothers me how there’s litter everywhere and animals are eating it, getting tangled in it and swallowing it up in the oceans. People are doing really cool things to tackle this problem, and it’s a problem where everyone can make a difference. It’s definitely a book for kids who like animals.”

One of her books is called ‘Dark Matters: Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution,’ which combines her childhood memoir with the scientific issue of light pollution and how it’s harmful to animals.

Galat’s journey as an author began when she was 12 years old and entered a writing contest. Although she didn’t win, she received an honorable mention, and her local newspaper asked if she would like to write for them. She recalled, “I became a 12-year-old paid writing columnist in a weekly paper.”

Although she always wanted to be an author, she initially studied Biological Sciences, and her books reflect her passion for science. With more than 25 books published, some in collaboration with National Geographic Kids and Scholastic, she emphasizes the importance of young children seeing a female role model interested in science and outer space.

Regarding her unique book launches, she said, “Authors have book launches, but as an author, I take things literally, and I launched five of my books in rockets, literally launched them. I showed the kids a video of one of my rocket launches, and they see science in action. I think that’s really good for them.”

She believes it’s essential for children to be exposed to non-fiction literature early in life to develop skills in communication, persuasion, and information sharing. Joan Marie Galat’s work is available in various bookstores and on her website,

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