Learning Chemistry with Comic Books
A few months ago, I received the comment, “These comic books are cute, but they can’t change the world.” To which I replied, “Let me show you exactly how they can change the world.”
There are less than 6% of all physicians in the United States who identify as African American or Black. I have been aware of this daily for the last 30 years as I teach the critical, required course for admission into medical school – chemistry. Nationally we have failure rates of 80% for underrepresented students in chemistry.
This failure stops them from even applying from medical school. So, it’s no wonder we are lacking in physicians of color. This failure rate is not due to poor motivation, trying, good study habits, attendance or anything that is in control of these students. It is simply because these students are entering college, choosing a pre-medicine path, and are molecularly illiterate.
Learning chemistry is very similar to learning how to read – the Periodic Table is the alphabet of science, molecular formulas are the words of science, and chemical equations are the sentences of science. Can you imagine coming to college with only a vague idea of how to read and then being thrown into a course where you needed to analyze novels by Hemingway?
This is precisely what we are doing to our students, especially from underserved communities where science education is sparse. They may never have seen the Periodic Table and find themselves in a freshman chemistry course without any tools to begin to understand the content and concepts. Failure is inevitable and medical school is now impossible.
Our comic books and curriculum offer an onboarding ramp for these students and to anyone who wants to learn chemistry. The comic books impart mastery of Molecular Literacy and will allow thousands of students to pursue their dream of becoming a physician.
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About "The M.C. Detective Agency: Chemical Solutions Required"
The M.C. Detective Agency: Chemical Solutions Required is a series of comic books that teaches chemistry to kids ages 8 – 108. This multi-episodic series envelops a cleverly concealed chemistry curriculum with the stories of twins, Poppi and Ray, who solve mysteries using chemistry. These sibling sleuths have many adventures, including traveling back in time to rescue the Radium Girls, attending a modern day rock concert to save a vanishing Van Gogh, and swimming in a bottle of Chanel No. 5 to find the hiding aldehydes. The readers eventually discover that M.C. is Marie Curie, hence the names Poppi (Polonium), Ray (Radium) and Granny Eve (Marie’s Curie’s youngest daughter).