Learning Chemistry with Comic Books
Colleen is a first-generation college student who kept following her flow of having fun doing chemistry research. Fast forward 30 years later to the tail-end of her career teaching chemistry in higher education, Colleen finds herself captivated by the question, “Why do my students think chemistry is SO hard?” Dr. Kelley now conducts her research in Chemical Education to uncover this mystery. What she has discovered is that learning chemistry is very much like learning music. Both disciplines are dependent on the interpretation of symbols and the development of fluency with these symbols. We know that the best time to learn music is between ages 6 – 10 when the brain has the plasticity to make the neural connections necessary. We NOW know, through Dr. Kelley’s research, that this is also the best time to learn chemistry.
Dr. Kelley recently finished teaching for 10-weeks in 4th and 5th grade classrooms using her chemistry comic book series. The kids were excited and embraced learning through this platform. Most importantly, 94.7% of the students showed mastery in college-level chemistry concepts AND NGSS standards. What’s next? “My WHY is to make learning chemistry fun, accessible, and inclusive so that it becomes a ‘normal’ part of a child’s education.”
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).
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“What I really liked, what I thought was fun, ….really fun, was calculating the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons and the atomic mass.”
4th grade student, Tucson, AZ public school