By Margaret Roth
There are many roads that can be taken on the the journey to inspiration and creation. For Robin Stevens Payes, her journey began literally on road. As a mother of three children and science interpreter, she spent a lot of time on the road, listening to stories and tales of drama unfold from the driver’s seat as her children explored their school-age years. This experience was not only treasured time with her children, but for a writer immersed in contemporary science, this was a complete study in teenage psychology.
With this inspiration, and not to mention set of first-hand observations, Robin began crafting Out of Time, the story of Charley Morton, a teenage girl whisked back in time, by a science fair project gone-all-too-well, to the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci on the journey of a lifetime. As Charley explores the world of Florence with Leonardo, her idol and mentor, she must find a way home, all while finding herself.
Over the last 15 years, this story has transformed itself. First written as a screenplay, Charley’s story is now a transmedia science fiction, time travel, adventure novel, and is a finalist in the When Words Count Retreat Pitch Week, a juried competition for authors of promise. As a finalist, Robin is competing for a book deal, national publicity campaign, and all the support necessary to make Out of Time the next breakout book for teens.
As Robin is eagerly preparing for her journey to Vermont next week for the competition, EdTechWomen checked in via e-mail to see how things were shaping up for the next stage of her adventure.
MR: Out of Time, both the novel and your journey, is absolutely fascinating. Tell us about your plans and where you see this all going.
RSP: From the scientific, technological, and historical scope needed to tell the story, and the breadth of Leonardo’s genius, emerged the idea to create Out of Time Media, an online learning platform, to turn the process of reading Out of Time into an immersive, multimedia, multimodal, learning experience.
Using the story as the foundation, coupled with Leonardo’s curious and wide-ranging intellect and Charley’s inventiveness, brains and grit, educators will be able to create a dynamic transdisciplinary and blended learning program through the Out of Time Media experience. There are so many possible points of student engagement on a vast array of topics, from the physics of time to geo-history to military engineering to Renaissance cuisine.
While the online learning platform is still in the works, pending funding, and the right STEAM-Ed visionaries, partners, and investors, the plans for this transdisciplinary learning through story project continue!
MR: As a former middle school teacher myself, there are so many ways I can see this being used in the classroom. Tell us some more about the kind of learning experiences you see Out of Time allowing educators to create for their students?
RSP: There are a number of classroom activities and projects that I can see emerging from a reading of the novel, and a myriad of ways Out of Time Media can support teaching and learning in the classroom. Out of Time creates a world, Renaissance Italy. Instead of memorizing straight facts for a just another novel unit, the story allows students to reconstruct the way people lived, the conditions that encouraged the flowering of a rich intellectual, social, and artistic ferment that allowed for the emergence of so many great geniuses, whose work still impact our lives today. They can study the role of the Roman Catholic Church in that period and how the Pope and the di Medici rulers of Florence were often in a struggle—not just for power, but for a way of life.
MR: You are obviously extremely passionate about story. How has that impacted Charley and how do you see her story impacting classrooms?
RSP: Learning is made more resonant through story when lived and imagined by readers through the eyes of strong and compelling characters. Out of Time Media brings them together in one online place, where flipped learning, social learning and storytelling invites learning beyond STEM, and STEAM to a new level of broad MASTERY.