College - Author 1

College of Liberal Arts

Department - Author 1

World Languages and Cultures Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BA in Modern Languages and Literatures

College - Author 2

College of Liberal Arts

Department - Author 2

World Languages and Cultures Department

Degree - Author 2

BA in Modern Languages and Literatures



Primary Advisor

John Thompson, College of Liberal Arts, World Languages and Cultures Department


This project, a bilingual children's book, “Phil the Phytoplankton” and “Felipe el fitoplancton” educates young readers on the importance of phytoplankton in our world. The book emphasizes the fact that such small organisms, invisible to the naked eye unless gathered in immense quantities, are responsible for providing the earth with approximately 50% of the oxygen essential for human life. As defined by Cal Poly, sustainability is “the ability of the natural and social systems to survive and thrive together to meet current and future needs.” This book encourages a symbiotic relationship as a young girl, initially afraid of the unknown, learns to care about the oxygen-giving life in the ocean waters just outside her home. The book concludes by providing the reader with tangible actions to support the natural living systems in an everyday setting. The comprehension questions and word search that follow the story provide an interactive element, which allows for young minds to retain the information in a child-friendly manner. The digital illustrations are designed to give the greatest sensorial impact to the narrative and assessment portions of the book and demonstrate technical and artistic expertise acquired at Cal Poly. With the content available in both English and Spanish, important scientific concepts are able to be accessed by a more widespread and inclusive audience. Within our own discipline, specific translation and linguistic techniques and concepts have been applied in elaborating this project, specifically regarding word choice and spoken language patterns. In addition, concepts from Spanish journalism coursework regarding target audience and outcomes have been applied. Finally, pedagogical training acquired via education coursework has informed the method of adapting complex terms to be better received by younger audiences. The process of elaborating both versions of the book has shed light on ways in which literacy is initially acquired and the importance of celebrating bilingualism. All of these aspects have come together to create a unique and intentional children’s book for a diverse audience, helping our university community advance towards its goal to "Analyze and explain local, national, and global sustainability using a multidisciplinary approach" (Cal Poly Sustainability Learning Objective).