Van Stolk ’18 helps pen next "Edge of Yesterday" adventure

by St. Andrew's Communications Staff
Claire van Stolk ’18 has spent her summer exploring how all her favorite subjects—history, language, math, and science—intersect as an intern for Robin Stevens Payes, author of the new young adult novel, Edge of Yesterday.
“In college, I want to focus on history and languages, but I was worried I couldn’t focus on my other loves of science and math,” van Stolk said. “This internship makes me feel like I can put all this into whatever work I’m involved in.”

Edge of Yesterday chronicles the adventure of a science-smart middle schooler who successfully builds Leonardo da Vinci’s design for a time machine. Van Stolk’s chief responsibility was writing articles for the “Edge of Yesterday” website, a hub for readers hungry for more stories that connected their diverse interests.

She penned pieces on Wonder Woman, secret societies, and Kevlar, all through an interdisciplinary lens and in a voice that would be approachable to middle school students, the main audience of Edge of Yesterday. Her first published blog is about efforts to communicate with extraterrestrial life through sound.

Van Stolk credits her English assignments and the Oral History Project with helping her manage the internship’s intensive research and writing.

“We do a lot of writing here and that really helps me,” van Stolk said. “It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s good pressure.”

She also contributed to the next book in the Edge of Yesterday series by consolidating research on Émilie Du Châtelet, a French natural philosopher, mathematician, physicist, and author during the 18th century.

“I thought I knew a lot about Emilie, but she’s a cool figure and there’s a lot more to her than we hear about in science class,” van Stolk said, noting that she first learned about du Châtelet and her philosophy of physical science in eighth grade. “It will be really cool to see my research put into action.”

Payes said that working with van Stolk has inspired her to expand how students can contribute to the development of the Edge of Yesterday series. This fall, Payes and van Stolk will lead a club at St. Andrew’s that will give students a space to explore history through a lens that interests them.

“It would be really wonderful to get students involved, especially Upper School students, in researching this next adventure, but through a greater lens of the Enlightenment—through history and science and philosophy and women’s studies,” Payes said. “Part of what I hope to encourage is that it’s not just for kids who are interested in literature or the humanities or history. Let’s see if we can get kids who love math, and what does that look like?”

Head of Upper School Ginger Cobb said the club will be a great opportunity for students.

“I’m very excited that students will be able to do research for a novel that will be published, so they can see the whole process,” Cobb said.

More information about the new club will be available to students in September.

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St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private, coeducational college preparatory day school for students in preschool (Age 2) through grade 12, located in Potomac, Maryland.