TV presenter Maddie Moate has just released her first book, so we caught up with the star to find out what it’s all about!
You’re about to release your first book, Stuff. What can we expect to read in it?
Stuff is a collection of stories about the way ordinary things are being made in extraordinary ways all around the world!
What made you decide to write a book like this?
I love to find out how things are made and have been super lucky to visit lots of factories, farms and workshops in the UK to make my TV programme Maddie’s Do You Know? However, I wanted to explore further afield and started to discover loads of brilliant stories about the way international communities and forward-thinking individuals were making things in creative, sustainable ways. This book became the perfect place to share these and the illustrations help to transport the reader to all the far-flung destinations.
Did you go on any exciting research trips?
I wrote most of the book during lockdown 2020, so I wasn’t able to travel much then. However, lots of the stories were inspired by things I had seen or heard about on past adventures. In Iceland I saw bread being baked on the shores of an icy lake, and in Thailand I saw paper being made from elephant poo! It was experiences like these that inspired me to write the book in the first place.
The world is full of amazing inventions, so how did you narrow down what to include?
With difficulty! I came across so many stories that could have made it onto the pages, so to help narrow things down I chose those with the most “wow” factor. Often the more simple and ordinary an object, the more exciting and unexpected the story of how that thing can be made is. For example, a fence may not seem that interesting at first, but when you discover that there are people in Kenya making fences out of beehives to deter wild elephants, suddenly the story becomes intriguing!
Stuff by Maddie Moate is out now and you can still catch Maddie in Show Me The Honey on BBC iPlayer
You’re always learning about new things, but what still really intrigues you?
I’m fascinated by growing seaweed and the benefits it might have for our planet. One of the stories in the book explains how seaweed is super fast-growing and can be used as food, packaging, and a natural barrier to help protect our coastlines. It also helps to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, which is really important in our fight to manage climate change. Seaweeds and seagrasses are the forests of our oceans and are just as important as the trees and plants on land!
If you could invent one item, what would you invent?
I’d love to invent an electric passenger plane as soon as possible! Travel is something I adore and think everyone should get to experience. Sadly it’s just not sustainable at the moment because it’s hugely carbon-intensive. I’m sure we’ll electrify flight in the future, but we’re not quite there yet.
STEM subjects have been a lot more popular in recent years, but were you into STEM subjects when you were at school?
Biology was one of my favourite subjects and still is. I had a fantastic teacher called Dr Fitter, who helped me to see that a future in science didn’t necessarily look like hours upon hours spent in a lab. He made me realise it could lead to a life of adventure and discovery too.
There are some fun activities in the book! Have you tried any of them at home and did you have any disasters while doing them?
I’ve had lots of fun making egg cress heads, mini compost bins, bee B&Bs and recycled paper! I haven’t had any disasters, but making paper is wonderfully messy, as you have to make a sloppy, papery mush to start with. Growing cress always blows my mind too. It grows SO quickly and the seeds get bizarrely gloopy before they start sprouting.
You’ve had a really busy year, but looking back what have been some of the highlights for you?
I’m super excited to be publishing my first book, so that’s definitely a highlight. I also filmed a TV series for CBBC called Show Me The Honey, which follows five kids on their journey to becoming beekeepers. Beekeeping is a huge passion and hobby of mine so it was a joy to be a part of. I’m equally proud of Let’s Go Live, a daily live science show that my partner Greg Foot and I started during 2020 and are still making on YouTube now. We grew the best community of families who have now joined in with over 85 livestreams and taken part in over 150 science activities!