Making Curriculum Pop

If your interested in this article from Wired you might enjoy an earlier blog that addressed "Comic Science"

How Comics Can Save Us From Scientific Ignorance

What's the solution to America's crisis in science education? More comic books. In December comes The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA, a remarkably thorough explanation of the science of genetics, from Mendel to Venter, with a strand of social urgency spliced in. "If there was ever a time that we needed a push to make science a priority, it's now," says Howard Zimmerman, the book's editor and, not coincidentally, a former elementary-school science teacher. "Advances in treatments for disease cannot take place in a society that shuns science." Zimmerman works with the New York literary publishing house Hill and Wang, which discovered Elie Weisel and has been creating a new niche for itself as one of the premiere producers of major graphic "nonfiction novels" like the war on terror primer After 9/11 and the bio-comic Ronald Reagan.

Stuff of Life is the first in a series dedicated to the hard sciences. The author is Mark Schultz, a DC Comics veteran and creator of the postapocalyptic classic Xenozoic Tales. The 160-page work, illustrated by Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon (improbably, no genetic relation), covers the regenerative processes of DNA, human migratory patterns, cloned apples, and stem cells. In a rapidly changing field, it's as up-to-date and accurate as possible.

Schultz, like Zimmerman, was attracted by the possibilities of using comics as an educational medium. "It's not prose, and it's not documentary film," Schultz says. "It's kind of its own animal." And the graphic novel market is drawing in different readers than he's accustomed to at DC. "The manga phenomenon," he notes as one example, "is attracting new demographics, like younger women, who weren't picking up on traditional comics."

Not that this is the first time comics have been enlisted for educational purposes. The field goes back to the 1940s, when Will Eisner turned Army instruction manuals into graphic guides for soldiers. Also, there's Larry Gonick's Cartoon Guides of the '80s, with his Cartoon Guide to Genetics being the most obvious precursor here. Stuff of Life builds on Gonick, updating his science and employing a silly yet more effective narrative—alien scientist Bloort 183 presents a PowerPoint on human genetics to his slow-learning leader.
Up next? Possibly evolution. After all, Zimmerman says, "more than half of adult Americans think Earth is about 6,000 years old."

Full article (with hyperlinks) available from Wired here.

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Replies to This Discussion


love this! i have a good teacher-friend who is using graphic novels, especially superhero ones, in geometry class (spiderman works well). i think science and math need a lot more attention in regards to the graphic novel's potential.

in fact, last night i came across this AWESOME new graphic novel. it is brian fies' "whatever happened to the world of tomorrow." so much potential for science learning!

take care, katie
Using Spider-Man to teach geometry? I would DEFINITELY like to hear more about this.

Vaguely related, I wrote an article for Diamond BookShelf a while back on comics and sci/tech/math:

Gene Luen Yang's online algebra comic may be of interest:
Catlin - cool additional resources and nice write up!

Science teachers might also get a kick out of the comic book periodic table of elements.

BTW - some of the authors you mentioned in your article are actually ON the Ning!

Katie, can you put a link up for Brian's book? Glad you liked the resource, thanks for adding resources!



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