Two MSMS students publish books over summer break

By Kate McElhinney, The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science

While the COVID-19 pandemic kept most students from fulfilling their summer plans, junior Raeed Kabir and senior Shanay Desai wrote and published their own books. Kabir wrote a self-teaching AP Chemistry Prep book, while Desai published an introductory research guide.

Kabir’s book, available on Amazon, was written as a guide to any Advanced Placement Chemistry class. While syllabi may vary between schools, Kabir’s guide covers the essential topics covered in the AP Chemistry curriculum.

“The plan when I wrote this was for students who had essentially no prior knowledge of chemistry to be able to read through it and understand the basic concepts of AP Chemistry,” Kabir said. “It’s very aligned with the AP Chemistry Exam, and it’s different from other prep books and textbooks because I was very straight to the point. Textbooks are very large, and they tend to include lots of unnecessary information, and I didn’t do that.”

After taking AP Chemistry, Kabir realized how challenging the course can be for some students, and he thought it would be impactful to create a way for students to teach themselves the basic concepts before taking the course and the AP Chemistry Exam.

Raeed Kabir's prep book
Courtesy of Raeed Kabir
Junior Raeed Kabir hopes for his readers to easily understand the basic principles of AP Chemistry with his prep book.

“I struggled for a while because I asked myself, ‘Why would I write this?’ I’m just sixteen, and I just finished AP Chemistry,” Kabir said. “What qualifies me to write a prep book? It’s not even that I know everything about chemistry. It’s just that I know what I know, and I know how to explain it to others.”

“I encountered a lot of struggles when I didn’t understand concepts in school, and it seemed like it was all so much to process. I don’t want other kids to have to deal with those struggles just to understand a concept. I hope to inspire students to want to help each other out and make the struggles of school a bit easier.”

Shanay Desai, a senior who participated in research at MSMS, as well as the Science Fair, spent his summer planning a blog website, on which he planned to instruct students on how to conduct research properly. Desai, inspired by Kabir’s publishing success, turned his up-and-coming blog idea into an “Introduction to Research” book.

“I was actually planning on making a website that basically would go over everything that’s outlined in my book,” Desai said. “When I found out that Raeed published his prep book on Amazon, I was inspired. I felt like the book would be more impactful and tangible for students to utilize, so I scrapped the idea of the website to craft the book.”

Desai’s book introduces research to students, and it guides them through completing their projects. The book explains Desai’s own experiences, as well as tips and strategies that can be utilized throughout the research process.

Both Kabir and Desai mentioned that time was a challenge for them while writing. Kabir’s biggest challenge was the writing itself, as his book is over 50,000 words.

MSMS students publish books
Courtesy of Shanay Desai
Taking inspiration from Junior Raeed Kabir, Senior Shanay Desai transformed his blog into a book about scientific research.

“I started by holding a workshop, during which I taught the entire AP Chemistry syllabus to upcoming AP Chemistry students, and that’s how I got a lot of my information. I read a lot of prep books and did lots of practice problems to build a solid foundation,” Kabir said. “I had to make slideshows and I recorded my Zoom lectures from the workshop, and I just started writing. The entire process was really time-consuming, taking around six months, and it took a lot of motivation to keep pushing through and not procrastinate.”

Desai, on the other hand, found that time was a more prevalent challenge for him.

“I already had written out a lot of ideas on my computer before Raeed gave me the idea of the book, but when I switched over to a paperback book, it took me around two and a half weeks,” Desai said. “I know that doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but I spent around 3-4 hours a day working on every detail to make it perfect, so overall it probably took most of the summer.”

Kabir and Desai hope to positively impact students who, like themselves, want to further their education in science.

“Money was never my goal when writing the book,” Desai said. “My goal was to make a positive impact on students who are new in the research realm to give them opportunities to succeed.”

This story was originally published on The Vision MSMS on August 17, 2020.