Today's guest is Brett Hoffstadt, a father of two teenage children, who have consistently encouraged and supported non-digital learning and activities for his kids.
He believes that physical, analog formats such as books, hands-on activities, and museums can help children to develop a deep understanding of the world around them.
After a long and rewarding career in the aviation industry, Brett began a book writing and publishing business. He saw a need to help kids and young adults realize they could create their own innovative path into the aviation and aerospace fields. He gave them 10 powerful tips to do this in his book, "How To Be a Rocket Scientist". Since then, Brett has continued to use the classic retro format of colouring books, activity books, and bedtime stories to inspire and educate kids on many modern STEM topics such as cybersecurity, smart cities, electric cars, and of course, space exploration.
Brett is a strong advocate of introducing digital-age topics to kids in physical, analog formats such as paperback colouring and activity books.
He joins us today to share his insights on how parents can help their kids navigate the digital world while fostering a love of learning and exploration through hands-on experiences.
Brett’s website: https://howtobearocketscientist.com/ This episode is sponsored by Skill Samurai – Coding & STEM Academy www.skillsamurai.com.au
Speaker 1 (00:08):
Welcome to the Parenting in the Digital Age podcast. Many parents are concerned that their child might be falling behind. Others are just looking for ways to help their children thrive, not just in the classroom, but socially and well into their future careers. Each episode we explore the challenges facing parents in the modern world, from behavior, education, and nutrition to device and gaming addiction. We interview a range of leaders in the area of childhood development to help you successfully navigate parenting in the digital age. Here is your host, Jamie, but
Speaker 2 (00:43):
Hello parents and welcome to the Parenting in the Digital Age Podcast, where we explore the challenges and opportunities of raising kids in a world filled with technology. Today's guest is Brett Hoffstadt, a father of two teenage children who consistently encouraged and supported non-digital learning and activities for his kids. Uh, Brett believes that physical analog formats such as books, hands-on activities and museums can help children to develop a deep understanding of the world around them. After a long and rewarding career in the aviation industry, Brett began a book writing and publishing business. He saw a need to help kids and young adults realize that they could create their own innovative path into the aviation and aerospace fields. Now, Brett gave him 10 powerful tips to do this in his book called How to Be a Rocket Scientist. And since then, Brett has continued to use this classic retro format of coloring books, activity books, and bedtime stories to inspire and educate kids on many modern STEM topics such as cybersecurity, smart cities, electric cars, and of course space exploration. Now Brett is a strong advocate of introducing digital age topics to kids in physical analog formats such as, uh, paperback, coloring, and activity books. Uh, Brett joins us today to share his insights on how parents can help their kids navigate the digital world while fostering a love of learning and exploration through hands-on experiences. Wow, that's quite the introduction. Welcome to the show, Brett. Before we get into it, please share with our listeners, uh, what you do, what you're interested in, and, uh, you know what you're passionate about.
Speaker 3 (02:19):
Great. Well, thank you, Jamie. Uh, it's a thrill and honor to be on your show, and I think your introduction covered a lot of it. So, I'm here in Northern California and enjoying really the golden age we live in. I really believe there's never been a better time to be alive with the, the future we have with all the needs we have for technology and learning and progress. And there's plenty of problems to be solved, but that means there's plenty of opportunities for kids who want to take charge and learn and, and make a difference in the world.
Speaker 2 (02:53):
Yeah, you bet. And STEM is a big part of that. Helping kids get, uh, interested in STEM related topics and activities is a big part of that. So tell me what inspired you to write and publish books for kids on, on these STEM topics?
Speaker 3 (03:06):
Well, uh, like I said, Jamie, we're really, we're living in a amazing, fantastic time for our species when, uh, every year, every decade is different than the year before. The decade before. You know, things are changing at an incredible pace, and there's amazing, amazing opportunities now that have never existed. Uh, we can, we can choose to learn whatever we want to learn. We can create whatever we want to create. That's, uh, more or less like with 3D printing, you know, collaborating with people across the world through the digital age, digital connections. So if you decide yourself and pick yourself to make a difference, to learn something, there's really very low barriers, very few barriers to do that. And so I'm really excited and inspired to encourage children and families to pursue the opportunities, decide where, where they want to make a difference, what they wanna learn about, and help them on that path create a fantastic trajectory for their life.
Speaker 2 (04:12):
Yeah. And, and you advocate, uh, a lot for this sort of offline, uh, you know, books as such as a way to help kids, um, engage with these STEM subjects. And how, how do you think, um, uh, this offline approach helps kids engage more readily with STEM activities or STEM subjects?
Speaker 3 (04:29):
Well, I really, I believe in, um, multi-sensory learning and, uh, using all of our senses. And I really, I am sensitive and concerned about the, the issues with too much screen time for children, especially when they're young. So one of my questions I thought about was, well, how can we encourage learning and facilitate learning about these modern digital age topics without using a computer, without staring at a screen? So that's why I decided to pursue paperback books with the, you know, puzzle activity and coloring books, reading books, because, uh, books are classic, you know, they will stand the test of time and they're safe, they're wholesome, they're inexpensive. Also, you don't need any, uh, you know, any electrical cords. Nice, clean and fun. And, uh, so that's, that's why I love to create them.
Speaker 2 (05:25):
Yeah, well done. I I think the world needs more of that. Uh, Brett, now as a parent who's encouraged non-digital learning activities for your kids, uh, what advice would you give to other parents who are struggling to find that balance between technology use and more traditional methods of learning and play?
Speaker 3 (05:43):
Well, I would say to consider that the old school retro type of formats are still, can still be very effective. Like coloring books, activity books, uh, bedtime stories. And they are out there on these modern topics like cybersecurity and the internet of things, uh, electric vehicles, space exploration. And of course, hopefully they might, uh, come across some of my books that I've created out there. But, uh, they are out there and if there's some that parents would love to have that they don't see, they don't find available, then I'd love to hear from them and maybe we can make something for them.
Speaker 2 (06:27):
Yeah, absolutely. Customized writing. So in your, in your, uh, your book How to Be a Rocket Scientist, uh, it provides kids with some tips for creating their own innovative path into aviation and aerospace fields. You know, can you share a tip or two or like, you know, maybe I'm asking, you know, how can parents help their kids explore and pursue these interests in STEM fields?
Speaker 3 (06:48):
Sure. Well, uh, some of the tips, there are 10 tips and I highly recommend, uh, parents check them out. You can actually learn about them, what all 10 of them are on my website, which is how to be a rocket scientist.com. But one of them, some simple things are to watch a movie about rocket science, and there's some great movies out there like the Martian and, uh, some others, uh, they can be kid friendly. Uh, another thing to do, really effective thing is to find a local group or organization that is space oriented. And there's a lot of, a lot of them like astronomy clubs, there's radio control aircraft clubs. And so I will say that that was a huge benefit to me when I was a little boy to, uh, I loved to learn about airplanes and play with them. So, and I found, uh, my father was great to help me introduce me to radio control club in the area.
Speaker 3 (07:54):
So we got to build and fly airplanes together. There's model rocket clubs. But what I will say to parents and kids is that, uh, we, those of us who are working in this industry and all the other STEM fields, I really believe that we are eager to share our experiences and encourage families and kids to join us. And so we're a very welcoming, receptive community, and we would love to share our passion and our skills with families and kids. So take some initiative, take have some courage to reach out to local groups or local professionals, and, uh, I think you'll be very grateful for doing that. And you'll, that'll start you on your pathway to learn about things. And you can learn by doing, learn by having fun.
Speaker 2 (08:43):
Yeah, that's some great suggestions. And, and you know, that, uh, almost takes me back to my childhood and, and there's such valid, uh, extracurricular or enrichment activities like, you know, the old Rocket Club or remote control playing clubs or science clubs, you almost forget they're there because there are these more mainstream, I mean, whether it's coding schools or math tuition or music schools or martial arts, these mainstream things tend to dominate a bit. But there are some really good things if, if parents just scratch beneath the surface, uh, unique, uh, uh, offerings and propositions that really can, uh, help enhance their child's academic journey, but really get them interested in some really cool stuff that, uh, well no doubt helped them in many years to come. Now you talk about a few fears. So, uh, what fears and concerns are addressed by your books?
Speaker 3 (09:31):
Well, so one of them is the, the idea of how to learn about these things without getting sucked into a computer or, you know, being in front of a screen too much. And so fortunately we still have classic paperback books, you know, so we can use those, uh, coloring books with crayons. Uh, so that's one concern that I'm happy to solve with these paperback books. Another thing is there's a lot of, uh, fear or worry about will technology, uh, take over our lives? Will it, will it, uh, will we lose control of them or will they lose control over our lives? Well, I believe that the more we understand this tech, these technologies, the more we see how they can benefit us and benefit people around us, then we'll lose that fear and will become empowered to be more proactive with these technologies. And so what I've done with my books, like, uh, the Exploring Smart Cities Activity Book for Kids is show how technology can help us in our daily lives, how, uh, it can be integrated into our daily lives. And, uh, so it makes it, uh, more friendly, more accessible, and not as scary.
Speaker 2 (10:54):
Yeah. And, and you make a really, really valid point about, uh, helping kids understand the technology. And, uh, too often, uh, you know, this whole obsession with devices and gaming and social media, uh, it's all driven or it's all built to, you know, create these consumers or these passive consumers, as we like to call it. And, uh, you know, really, and, and part of what we are passionate about, skills samura, getting kids on the healthy side of technology. So even if they are, uh, happen to be doing screen time, we want them to be learning the program. Now, now we know that all our students aren't gonna be computer programmers. That's not the point. The point is, how do we help kids build a healthy relationship by understanding that technology, by building that technology, creating, you know, solutions to the problems that exist in the real world, rather than just sitting on that passive consumption side, which I think is certain, certainly the more dangerous side of, uh, technology, um, in today's world. Uh, another question I'd like to ask. You know, uh, your books are quite inspirational. So what, what dreams, inspirations, and achievements can people or kids find in your books?
Speaker 3 (12:02):
Well, they can see that we really, as I said, we are living in a golden age of opportunities and new innovations with technology. So in my bedtime book, goodnight Moon Base, which is a spinoff of the popular classic Goodnight Moon, uh, kids will see a future vision of what life can be like on the moon with a moon civilization and a moon settlement. So they can see a greenhouse on the moon, they can see, uh, people working on the moon, on the moon surface. And there's a vision you can see on the cover of a child in a bedroom. And instead of the earth, I'm sorry, instead of the moon outside the window at at night, they see the earth. And so there's a, I think a profound impact when we can imagine looking down upon the earth from space, because it changes our perspective about where we are in the universe, you know, what, how important our planet is. Uh, so that's some examples. Some other examples in a book I've created about Tesla automobiles and electric vehicles. Uh, kids can see themselves, they can imagine themselves in a Tesla or other vehicles, and they can practice their design skills to, uh, design their own car or their own color of a car. And so that's, uh, that could be the start of their design, design career to help design new electric cars in the future.
Speaker 2 (13:46):
Yeah, absolutely. It's, uh, quite aspirational. Uh, and I like the way you're doing it through, uh, three books or through, uh, or through, um, uh, coloring books, you know, and the simplicity, uh, shouldn't be underestimated because, uh, it's, uh, it's how we all created, uh, all the stuff that exists today. We were all into the, uh, the offline stuff at one point. And, uh, it's a nice way to to, uh, to, to encourage kids towards that path. Um, one question we'd love to ask all of our guests as we wrap up our podcasts is if you could go back and, and in your case in a rocket ship, uh, through, through space and time to your 10 year old self, uh, what is one piece of advice, Brett, that you'd give your younger self?
Speaker 3 (14:29):
Well, I would say, I think everyone, everyone's situation, situation is different, but I would say what I, for myself, I would've said, it's great to think about technology and products and designs, but remember that it's all ultimately to serve people. So you should try to put people first and understand people, how it can benefit them. And so that's what I would give advice to myself because it's fun to create things, uh, and that can be fun in itself, but it's a lot more beneficial if you know that there's people out there that want to receive it and to benefit from it. And, uh, so that's, that's good to think about too.
Speaker 2 (15:21):
Yeah. Human centered approach. Very, very true. And wise words, Brett, and, uh, tell our listeners, where can we find you online? How can we get ahold of your amazing books if they want to, uh, get ahold of them?
Speaker 3 (15:33):
Thanks a lot. Well, uh, my name is Brett Hofs stat, and I think I'm the only person with that name in the world. So you can find me, uh, on LinkedIn if you're an adult. But if you are a child looking for kids books, then you can go to How to Be a Rocket scientist.com for that book. And if you're interested in a bedtime book to transport yourself to the moon for bedtime every night, look for a Goodnight Moon base. And the website for that is goodnight moon base.com.
Speaker 2 (16:05):
Thank you. We'll put those in the show notes for everyone to, uh, see and access. Brett, I appreciate your time and your generosity today are some, uh, wise words and certainly some great simple tips that parents can take away and use and, uh, I hope they're encouraged by our conversation today. Thanks again, and, uh, bye for now.
Speaker 1 (16:24):
If you enjoyed the show, please connect with Jamie on LinkedIn or Instagram. You'll find links in the podcast description. Parenting in the Digital Age is sponsored by Skill Samurai Coding and STEM Academy for Kids. Skill Samurai offers afterschool coding classes and holiday programs to help kids thrive academically and socially while preparing them for the careers of the future. Visit Skill samurai.com.au.