York comic book superhero Green Kid’s out to save the world…

HE’S the latest comic book superhero on the block – and he hails from right here in York.

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.

The Green Kid comic is the brainchild of academics at the universities of York and Teesside.

It has already been road-tested on children at two York schools – All Saints and Acomb Primary – and copies will be going out to every primary school in the city.

The researchers wanted to find a fun and accessible way of getting children aged 9-12 thinking about science and climate change.

In the comic, which is packed with educational games and puzzles, Green Kid learns about a substance known as Cyrene – a safe, recyclable bio-based chemical made from sawdust which can be used in the manufacture of everything from lithium batteries and carbon fiber bicycles to medicines.

Green Kid the comic

Dr Rob McElroy from the University of York’s department of chemistry, one of the researchers behind the comic and a co-inventor of Cyrene, 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 from Teesside University, we talked about how he wanted to use his art to help inform the public about scientific research and we realized we could work together.

“We really wanted to show kids that science isn’t boring and the comic gets across some exciting scientific concepts, that aren’t usually introduced until degree level, in a simple way.

“The plot is centered around the climate crisis, but with a hopeful message that scientists are working hard to come up with solutions like Cryene.”

Julian, a senior lecturer in comics, graphic novels and sequential arts at Teesside University and Green Kid’s co-creator, added: “Comics and illustrations are always a great way to engage, enthuse and educate a young audience.

“This has been a really interesting project to be involved with – showing the impact comics can have.”

York Press:

Dr Rob McElroy (right), co-creator of Green kid. Picture: John Houlihan/University of York

The researchers have already tested Green Kid out at Acomb Primary Academy and All Saints.

Teachers read the comic with their classes and did a lesson around its key themes – including an experiment with sugar, starch and cellulose to demonstrate the power of solvents.

Thanks to funding from the Royal Society of Chemistry, every primary school in York will now be given 30 copies of the comic, along with a teacher pack.

Alice Hurd from All Saints RC School said: “The pupils really enjoyed having something slightly different in their science lessons.

“We spent a few lessons working with the comic, including doing some practical work related to the topics covered, which the students were really really engaged with.

“As a teacher, it was fantastic to be able to do something off the curriculum and it was timed really nicely that when we did work with the comic it was during science week.”

Tom Dennis from Acomb Primary Academy added: “The comic had a real impact on the children’s subject knowledge in relation to climate change.

“Not only did the comic engage them, with the approachable character Green Kid, but (it) was informative, sharing key statistics such as the increase of global temperature and how processes, such as the production of Cyrene, can help improve the situation.

“When asked after finishing the comic what could be improved, all children were unanimous – they wanted another one!”

The researchers are now seeking further funding for another two issues of the comic.

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