Student made comic book to explain complex chemistry Veronica Berns holds the comic book "Atomic Size Matters" that she created to explain her doctoral chemistry thesis to her family (AP photos)
Student made comic book to explain complex chemistry
Lexile

Late last spring, a student worked late into the night. As she doodled, her chemistry thesis took on a life of its own. Eventually, it was transformed into a comic book.

Veronica Berns, 28, was working on her Ph. D. in chemistry. She was a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Berns said she long struggled to explain her work to her parents and friends.

The self-described comic book fan said she had begun to draft her thesis on quasicrystals. They are a subset of crystals that diverge from the usual structural characteristics of crystals. Berns quickly concluded that she needed a fresh way to describe the oddball compounds. To do it, she decided to use illustrations.

"They're not very well-polished illustrations. That's on purpose," Berns said. "I wanted it to be like I'm explaining on the back of an envelope."

On many occasions, it was on the back of an envelope or on a napkin that she doodled sketches. She was able to illustrate the chemical bonds. It allowed her to better show her parents what she was working on in the lab.

Jody Berns, Veronica's mother, said their family has a history of doodling and has shared comics for years.

Veronica Berns surprised her family with her comic book. It was called "Atomic Size Matters." She showed it off at her graduation last year. The book depicts cartoons of Berns wearing various costumes. It uses humor as well as simple comparisons to describe elaborate chemistry.

"We're just really proud that she can take something so complex and put it into a fun visual explanation that everyone can enjoy," Jody Berns said.

Veronica Berns' professor Danny Fredrickson said Berns was the first of his students to construct her thesis in an artistic way. He said often it is difficult for scientists to explain what they do with proper context.

"If it's worth doing, we should be able to explain it," Fredrickson said.

He said Berns managed to accomplish that.

Berns said she hopes other scientists will find ways to illustrate what they're doing in the lab. She now lives in Chicago and works as a chemist. Berns also writes a blog. There, she uses comics to explain the work of Nobel Prize winning scientists.

Berns started a Kickstarter fundraising campaign on the Internet to finance printing a small batch of the books. She said she wanted to raise $5,965 to cover the costs of professional printing. The website says she has raised more than $14,000.

Critical thinking challenge: How does humor aid understanding?

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COMMENTS (5)
  • John0724-YYCA
    5/11/2015 - 08:31 p.m.

    Well now people might think that science is very fun because the student created the comic book about science with humor which will make kids like science like I hate to read science textbooks but when I see the science videos in Brain Pop it is very fun. I think that all science should be taught in a very fun way like the teachers showing them experiments and showing them videos and giving them fun books instead of boring textbooks which makes me want to sleep.

  • VanessaC-3
    5/12/2015 - 01:02 a.m.

    How would a student make a comic book about complex history? As it states to show one person makes a new difference of making a comic book about chemistry that makes it sound interesting. As it is it should be shown or published out into the world by showing how science would last with all about chemistry. So it would honor what kind of things to do in chemistry.

  • kaylaf1-Smi
    5/14/2015 - 10:37 a.m.

    This comic book was NOT very interesting. It was a little boring.I wish it was more about a kid that is really smart or something like that instead of some adult that does chemistry.Also i am use to like the super power comics or jokes NOTHING like this.

  • bis14
    5/19/2015 - 01:38 p.m.

    Hi. I think your cool. I wish I was you. Can you teach me. What is your name. How old are you. bis14

  • Mixicofre
    7/07/2015 - 07:16 p.m.

    This article reports on a college student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, who last spring after working all night in his thesis, I think a comic book about his thesis.
    Berns college student Veronica, 28, was working on his Ph. D. in chemistry, which constantly struggled to explain to their parents and friends their work.
    After Veronica started writing his thesis on quasicrystals, a subset of crystals that diverge from the common structural features of crystals, so Veronica concluded that it needed a fresh way to describe the compounds, so it He decided to use illustrations. "They are very well polished illustrations. That's on purpose, "Berns said," I wanted it to be as I am explaining in the back of an envelope "because most of the time I was scribbling on or behind a napkin. She was able to illustrate different chemical bonds, and gave him the opportunity to show their parents simply what was working in the laboratory.
    Jody Berns, Veronica's mother, said her family has a history of scribbles, and shared the comics for years.
    Veronica Berns surprised his family with his comic book, called "The atomic size matters"
    Berns work uses humor and simple comparisons to describe the elaborate chemical.
    "We are very proud that she can take something as complex and put it in a visual explanation of the fun that everyone can enjoy," said Jody Berns.
    Professor Veronica Berns' Danny Fredrickson said Berns was the first of his students to build their thesis in an artistic way. It says it is often difficult for scientists to explain what they do with the proper context.
    "If it's worth doing, we must be able to explain it," he said Fredrickson and Veronica managed to achieve.
    Veronica said she hopes other scientists will find a way to illustrate what they are doing in the lab. She currently lives in Chicago and works as a chemist. Berns also writes a blog, in which she uses comics to explain the work of Nobel Prize-winning scientists.
    Berns campaign fundraising on Kickstarter to fund Internet began printing a small batch of the books. She said she wanted to raise $ 5.965 to cover the costs of professional printing. The website says it has raised more than $ 14,000.
    Critical thinking challenge: How help understand humor?
    I think the comic help better understand difficult subjects because they are simple and easy to understand, plus it is a fun tool that facilitates learning.

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