Faulkes and cosmic comics!
Just as an asteroid half the size of a rugby pitch hurtles past the Earth, UK teenagers are being given the chance to learn more about the real science of such events, with the launch of the Cosmic Comics
project – and the Faulkes Telescope South is a key character in the story!
The project draws on the astronomy expertise of Prof Paul Roche of the Faulkes Telescope Project/University of Glamorgan and the technical expertise of Charles Wilson of Tinopolis Interactive, based in Llanelli. It is brought to life by illustrator Dave Smith, and the project is the brainchild of Dr Emma Weitkamp, the creator of
Cosmic Comics follows the adventures of three ordinary teenagers, who are given access to the Faulkes Telescope South in Australia, through a GCSE Astronomy project at their school.
The central characters in the Cosmic Comics are Jake, Mara and Ravi who are studying for their GCSEs at the White Horse Academy in Rockley. They are taught by astronomy enthusiast Mr Krater who has managed to get access to the Faulkes Telescope South. The ‘Cosmic Comics crew’ turn their eyes towards the heavens and put our solar system under scrutiny and as they get to grips with using a real research telescope their adventures begin.
“The comic storylines will help us to communicate some very exciting space science and astronomy, like the threat posed by asteroid and comet impacts, or eruptions from the Sun that
might damage our satellite networks – so it’s all about real science, but in a format that should appeal to our target audience”, says Paul, who is the science consultant to the project. “As we can see from asteroid 2012 DA14, there is lots of really interesting science going on out there, and we want to show that the UK is at the leading edge of much of this international research.”
Published weekly on the Planet
Science website and funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the five episode comic will be supported by short articles explaining the science behind the children’s exploits, as well as interactive polls and quizzes to test readers’ astronomy knowledge. All five episodes will remain on the website allowing browsers to catch up on any missed episodes.
“Young people love reading and research shows that placing science into a wider context not only helps engage readers but also facilitates learning”, said Dr Emma Weitkamp. “Feedback
from the Science Comics project showed that children loved the stories, and teachers commented how helpful it was to place science in an everyday context.”
Before starting the project Dr Weitkamp explored the reading habits of young teenagers and found that 40% of 13 to 15 year olds read a comic weekly or daily, with a similar number
reading about science on the Internet on a daily or weekly basis. Of 10 and 12 year olds, about 35% were reportedly reading a comic daily or weekly, with about 24% reading about science on the Internet.
Cosmic Comics website:
Planet Science website:
Science Comics website: