Coolbean the Soybean, now available as an interactive book for grades 3 to 5. Author Shawn Conley is an agronomy professor and the Soybean and Wheat Extension Specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“I wanted to develop a fun, yet educational, tool to help teach today’s youth about where food comes from, career opportunities in agriculture, and explain why soybeans are so important, not only here in the US, but around  the world,” says Conley. “My daughters were the main reason for writing this book, but I also remember being inspired at an early age by my first and second grade teacher, Mrs. Swiggum. Hopefully this book can help inspire the next generation of agricultural scientists.”

Previously released as a traditional graphic children’s book, Coolbean the Soybean transformed to an e-book in response to a generation of “digital native” students who want educational texts in a friendly format.

“We wanted to make it welcoming and accessible to boys and girls alike, and not intimidating,” says Lisa Al-Amoodi, managing editor. “The narration helps kids who may have a range of reading abilities.”

The book follows the life of Coolbean the Soybean to help children learn about agronomic, crop and soil sciences. Along the way, Coolbean explains modern farming techniques, how a seed becomes a plant and then produces a crop. The book tells the story of how soil, sunshine, and water affect the growth of the plant.

Coolbean’s content intentionally follows Next Generation science standards. “We chose to follow the format of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) graphic novels and comics because it’s a style that kids are very comfortable with,” says Al-Amoodi. “It also allowed us to package a lot of nonfiction science content into a cool story about a soybean.”

New to the e-book is a special feature that encourages kids to think like a scientist.

“It’s more than just reading,” Al-Amoodi says. “It’s helping kids understand what it’s like to ask scientific questions.” The e-book also includes videos of farm equipment at work in the field, links to further activities, and a friendly quiz to test comprehension.

“It is critical to get kids actively involved and excited about science at an early age,“ Conley says. “Coolbean the Soybean is a great vehicle to start that journey!”

Coolbean the Soybean is available online here. There is compatibility with the epub3 format, supported on iBooks and some Android readers.

The book is published jointly by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America in partnership with the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board