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Complicated chemical reactions, brain-racking problems and lengthy scientific terms will not be difficult anymore. Melissa Fernandes stumbles upon new teaching and learning methods that have taken schools by storm!

 

"I dread science. It is very difficult and I can never memorise the terms!" says Archana Sanchari, a 14-year-old from St John the Evangelist High School. Most children find physics, chemistry and biology very confusing and easily succumb to rote learning, which makes things worse for them. Many school children think studying science is a tedious task and books are referred to only when it's time to take examinations. 13-year-old Malvika Parwani opines, "Textbooks are not interesting. The monotony of reading the textbook makes the entire process of learning dull."

This is probably why educational books are taking the form of comic books. One of the brands that has adopted this style of delivering education is Mexus Education, an educational innovation venture that has launched interactive comic textbooks for classes 6, 7 and 8. The books bring scientific concepts to life through colourful and entertaining characters. Saurabh Saxena, Director of Mexus Education says, "These books will create a learning environment synonymous with entertainment. Children will learn and understand better through the visually appealing content. This will make learning informal and stress-free."

 But will schoolchildren find it simpler to grasp information in this format? Malvika's mother Reema Parwani says, "Science has always been taught using conventional methods. Maybe it is time to change and make use of innovative methods such that children get a lot more involved in the subject. Anything that caters to more than one sense will prevent mugging and help retain information."

Cartoons certainly have an impact on children as they have the capacity to hold their attention. However, the response to these new textbooks has been divided. Sahil Mukadam, a class 8 student at St Stanislaus School says, "I prefer our regular textbooks and wouldn't like to study science in another format as it will be confusing. These books are extremely graphical and may lead to concentration problems when children need to read pages and pages of plain text in higher classes." But Pooja Madhavan, a class 10 student from St Joseph's High School says, "Science-based comic books will be of great help. I will choose them over textbooks as I think they sound a lot more interesting and will improve my concentration. Visuals can be memorised easier than text as text can get really boring and uninteresting."

Psychologist H’vovi Bhagwagar says, "In the higher classes, a shift from visual content to textual content will affect schoolchildren to a large extent as they will get discouraged and will take time to adapt. There will also be a change in the format of writing answers as they move onto higher classes, which will only create stress. Also, a shift from pictorial content to text will affect their concentration levels and they may end up rote learning just to pass examinations, which will bear them no fruit in the future."

But these books do have their advantages. They consist of diagrams and charts that simplify complicated scientific concepts. Mind maps and images help students read, understand and remember effortlessly. These books also have characters around which the stories are built and explain complex subjects in a fascinating format. Saurabh Saxena says, "Using a visual method of teaching helps make the learning process more effective. While students may take time to read a few paragraphs on the water cycle, a simple graphical representation of the same phenomenon explains the process in seconds. Diagrams and images stimulate the visual sense to make learning more receptive and effective." The books also allow students to test themselves through challenging games and puzzles drawn out of each chapter. This helps them recall the topics learnt, allowing for revision at the same time.

Educational patterns are evolving even at coaching academies like IITian's Pace, which has introduced a video game which helps children learn science in an easy way. Like many other video games, one has to shoot a target. This allows one to answer questions based on scientific concepts including formulas, chemical equations and theories. These games are interactive and make learning science fun.

Mini Thomas, a teacher from St Xavier's School says, "Children are good visual learners and if taught through video games and comic books, they will learn quickly. Students take time to adapt to new methods, but once they get used to them, they will start enjoying themselves. It is time we get going and use more innovative methods to teach."

With all these new learning formats available to students and teachers, schools might soon become much like your favourite gaming zones. 

Here's a list of a few more science books in comic book format

- Our Toxic World by Aniruddha Sen Gupta
- Newton and Copernicus: Lab Rats by J C Olson
- Scientoonic Tell-tale of Genome and DNA by Pradeep Srivastava, Madhusudan Pandit and Lalji Singh
- The Young Scientists Series published by Young Scientists India
- T-Minus: The Race to the Moon by Jim Ottaviani
- Two-Fisted Science by Jim Ottaviani
- Interferon Force published by Pestka Biomedical Laboratories
- Bone Sharps, Cowboys and Thunder Lizards by Jim Ottaviani
- The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA by Mark Schultz
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