Chemedian's Comic Book and Teacher Resource

Lead Research Organisation: University of the West of England
Department Name: Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences


A strong central character was developed in comic format as part of a pilot project with the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). This character, the Chemedian, is a fun loving and engaging impish character, who has been designed to counter traditional negative stereotypes of chemists. She is young (11 years old), female, rebellious and non-conformist. She belongs to a group of beings that control chemistry and make sure the world works the way we expect. The pilot project found that children were able to draw on previous experience to explain the changes in materials caused by the central character. This comic was also well received by teachers, who commented on its novelty and its ability to engage reluctant readers. The comic format offers a creative approach to support chemistry teaching in primary schools that focuses on cross-curricular links with literacy. The project, therefore, draws on a popular cultural form but contains controlled, curriculum linked content. A bespoke comic book containing 10 comic adventures (9 new adventures plus the existing adventure - The Chemedian and the Crazy Football Match) will be created together with associated teaching resources. The first page of the existing comic is included at the end of the case for support to provide an example of the type of material that will be produced for this project. The project team have a number of ideas for storylines, many of which draw on the team's current research activities. For example, our research on unconventional computing involves materials which change colour. A story themed around colour change could involve The Chemedian going back in time to the land of the dinosaurs. She discovers that the landscape is largely red limestone. As she is wearing blue clothing, she sticks out as easy prey for passing dinosaurs. To avoid being eaten, she uses vinegar to change her cloths to red. This simple acid/base titration experiment is easy to mimic in the classroom using natural indicators such as red cabbage. Another example involves our research on sensor science, in which we are investigating sniffer bees. These could feature in a comic where bees help the Chemedian locate a gas leak. This could be followed up with hands on activities relating to smells. Ideas for storylines (both the science and the adventure aspects) will be developed in consultation with primary school children and teachers to ensure their appeal. All will be memorable humorous treatments of key concepts. Each of the 10 comic adventures will be accompanied by a detailed teachers' resource containing and explanation of the chemistry concepts explored in the comic, including specific links to the National Curriculum for Science, and suggestions for activities to support and extend learning about these concepts in both science and literacy lessons. The comic book will primarily focus on the three materials units in the KS2 curriculum: grouping and classifying materials changing materials separating mixtures of materials. By covering all three materials units, the comic book could be used throughout the KS2 curriculum. Thus, children would be exposed to the character and comic format on repeated occasions during KS2. This has the advantage of clearly linking the three units together as well as building on earlier work.


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Emma Weitkamp (Author) (2010) ScienceComics: Engaging children in the project development in Primary Science

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Featherstone H (2009) Often overlooked: formative evaluation in the development of ScienceComics in Journal of Science Communication

Description The project created the 'Selenia' comic series. This includes a comic narrative told in 10 instalments. These interactive comics include questions for pupils to answer while reading the comics. In addition to the story itself, the website includes games for pupils to use either on their own or in class. These test their knowledge of chemistry and the science behind the comics. In addition, there are a set of teachers resources with ideas for activities to be done in class or as part of a science club.
Exploitation Route The project materials are designed for use primarily in schools by teachers or at home in family groups. The story is engaging and the evaluation shows that children enjoy reading it. The project continues to receive requests from teachers for materials and for visits to talk about the project.
Sectors Education

Description SpaceJunkies
Amount £9,949 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/K002341/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2012 
End 03/2013
Description Broad Hinton C of E Primary School 
Organisation Broad Hinton Church of England Primary School
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
Start Year 2008
Description Chineham Park Primary School 
Organisation Chineham Park Primary School
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
Start Year 2008
Description Royal Society of Chemistry 
Organisation Royal Society of Chemistry
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
Start Year 2008
Description Digital editions of comics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Provided pdf versions of the online comics for a science club.

A school asked for a pdf version of the comics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
Description Schools Workshops Newcastle 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A series of workshops were held with schools in the Newcastle area that introduced teachers and pupils to the comics and how they could be used for science learning.

Children enjoyed working with the comics and it was notable that those whose first language was not English were able to engage with the comics very well.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011