Green Kid, developed by academics at Teesside University and University of York, aims to boost enthusiasm about science in children aged between nine and 12.
The comic, which is about green and sustainable chemistry research, is to be distributed to children in York’s primary schools through a project funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Set in 2064, the comic sees the character Green Kid go back in time to the 2020s to meet their inventor Summer as a child and see how scientific research to create green solutions and a circular economy could save the world from the ravages of climate change.
Co-creator of the comic, Julian Lawrence, Senior Lecturer in Comics, Graphic Novels & Sequential Arts at Teesside University’s School of Arts & Creative Industries, said: “Comics and illustrations are always a great way to engage, enthuse and educate a young audience on an important issue or topic.
“This has been a really interesting project to be involved with – showcasing the expertise here at Teesside University and the impact comics can have. I am delighted to see that this will be distributed to primary schools in York and hope it helps get the message across.”
The comic, which also includes educational games and puzzles, focuses on the sustainable solvent Cyrene - which was discovered by York researchers in 2014. The bio-based chemical can be used to sustainably manufacture a range of products from lithium batteries and carbon fibre bicycles to medicines.
Made from sawdust, Cyrene is safe, sustainable, recyclable and does not harm the environment. A company called Circa is building a plant in France to produce Cyrene and will sell it to manufacturers to replace toxic solvents.
Comics and illustrations are always a great way to engage, enthuse and educate a young audience on an important issue or topic
Dr Rob McElroy, from the Department of Chemistry at the University of York, is one of the researchers behind the comic and a co-inventor of Cyrene. He said: “I have a love of comics and visual arts and have wanted to use them to help get across the exciting world of Green Chemistry for a long time.
“When I met Julian Lawrence, we talked about how he wanted to use his art to help inform the public about scientific research and we realised we could work together. We really wanted to show kids that science isn’t boring. The comic gets across some exciting scientific concepts, that aren’t usually introduced until degree level, in a simple way.
“The plot is centred around the climate crisis, but with a hopeful message that scientists are working hard to come up with solutions like Cryene. Through the characters, we also wanted to reflect the fact that Chemistry at York is a diverse place, with an equal number of women and men undertaking a PhD, and with researchers from all over the world.”
The researchers have tested what children and their teachers think about the comic at two schools in York. Feedback from the schools suggests that pupils had an increased understanding of words like sustainable and solvent after this session. The researchers are now seeking further funding for another two issues of the comic.
Meet Green Kid, the bioeconomy's first comic book
Biofuels Digest, Web, 24/05/2022 Green Kid was written by academics at the University of York and Teesside University and funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
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The Press, p.9, Print, 17/05/2022 Green Kid travels back to the 2020s from his own time of 2064. His aim: to see if science can save his world from the ravages of climate change.
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9WEB, Web, 14/05/2022 The Green Kid comic is the brainchild of academics at the universities of York and Teesside.