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Teaching Science With Comics

September 29, 2017

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Beyond the caped crusaders and zombie apocalypse there is a world of comics teaching people about something you might never guess: science. By stitching together images and text, comic panels require input from our brains to work out what’s happening. This, essentially, is how learning works. So why not use them to people of all ages about science?

That’s exactly what comic book author, illustrator, and biology Professor Jay Hosler is doing. Dr. Hosler, creator of Clan Apis, Last Of The Sandwalkers, Evolution: The Story Of Life On Earth, and Optical Allusions, examines how effective comics are as a teaching tool and the interface between comics and the STEM fields.

His work, some of which has been funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on creating a hybrid of comics and traditional textbooks covering the evolution of vision and sensory biology.

His recent presentation, “The Science of Science Comics,” was part of 2017 Krost Symposium "Connecting With Comics" and explored how he does this, especially for non-science majors.

“We have to find ways to make science more accessible and understandable,” Hosler said. “When we look at statistics on who values science in our society, there’s a large number of people who don’t see facts as enough. Using comics to explain why we need science and why we need to understand it is an effective way to do this.”

Putting together a narrative with pictures does more than just text alone. Hosler refers to this as “wonderstanding.”

Concepts from how lightening works and wound care to the life cycle of bees can all be made into a story people of all ages can understand.

Clan Apis

“When we jump from panel to panel in a comic, our nerve cells are active as we work out what’s happening,” Hosler said. “We make connections and find the answers ourselves.”

While Hosler recognizes there’s still a stigma surrounding comics and their use as educational tools, he continues to be an advocate for just how amazing they can be.

“I want to communicate my joy and passion for science,” he said. “I hope more people will also see how comics can inspire you to care and learn more about the world around us.”

Watch Dr. Hosler's Full Presentation