Chemie | Biochemie | Medizin
Rebecca Bächler, 2003 | Utzigen, BE
In this paper, the creation of a scientific children’s picture book on the topic of emotions is discussed. The main purpose is to show how a complex and scientific subject can be conveyed to children using lay language and age-appropriate illustrations as means of communication. Finding ways to simplify a scientific topic while keeping core information was the main challenge of the process. With the help of interviews with children, discussions with specialists and scientists, a picture book has been created digitally (available in print). The young protagonist of said book is challenged by different emotions during his day and the reader gets insight into the underlying physical mechanisms. An increased understanding of the biological changes associated with emotions can help children understand that what they feel upon facing challenging situations is not only valid but also natural. This may in turn support them in adequately expressing their emotions rather than suppressing feelings or expressing them in a way that may cause harm to themselves or others.
Can a complex topic such as the neurobiology of physical reactions underlying emotions be simplified and illustrated in a way that makes this knowledge accessible to a young audience with the help of a picture book?
Before the production of the book could be started it was crucial to gain an understanding of the discussed topic. This was achieved by doing scientific research and then reviewing the results and the message of the book with a neurologist. For the storyline, a child was interviewed to find key elements to include in the story. The implementation of art and language were discussed with my art teacher and English teacher in regular intervals. The approach to both subjects was inspired by accomplished children’s book authors and illustrators. The illustrations of the characters were drawn digitally on the drawing software “FireAlpaca64”. The backgrounds, characters, and text boxes were arranged together using Affinity Photo. The text was added using Affinity Publisher.
The finished product is a hardcover picture book with dimensions of 30 cm x 21.6 cm x 0.9 cm. It consists of 32 pages. The largest fraction of the book consists of story pages, four pages comprise an appendix with scientific information regarding the book. 11 experimental readings have led to the conclusion that the reader sympathizes with the character and that the model of using marbles as messenger substances is easy to comprehend for children.
Creating a picture book on a complex subject can be achieved. By using simple words and clear illustrations the book can be understood and enjoyed by readers ranging from the ages of seven to twelve. But even after interviews with children and the time spent reflecting, it is may still be apparent to the reader that this book was written by an adult. Fully grasping the essence of a child’s world and capturing it in a book is challenging and while the educational aspect of the story is not lacking, it may be missing a certain sense of wonder. Even though a clear and simple art style was pursued, and helped in the understanding of the story, various concepts had to be discarded. This was challenging. Also, more research and experimenting could have been completed concerning the meaning of fonts in storytelling. The didactic distillation of the scientific background was necessary because a deep subject had to be covered. The story is a tremendous simplification, but while many details were left out, it was assured that the book will promote no misconceptions and will certainly help a child understand the very basic fundamentals of the neurobiology of emotions.
The completion of the book was successful. Every aspect could be covered, even if not always as detailed as it was desired. Because of the extensive research, time was short, and the book could not be further tested for example regarding how children react to the book or how it influenced them on a larger scale. This information would help determine whether the book was a favorable attempt or not. Publishing the book was also something that has not been achieved yet. Both doing more extensive experiments on the effect of the book and pursuing publishing options would complement my project and paper.
Würdigung durch die Expertin
Prof. Dr. Nora Raschle
In Ihrer Arbeit gelingt es Rebecca Bächler auf eindrucksvolle Weise biologisches Wissen zur Entstehung von Emotionen auf kindergerechte Art zu erklären. “Mo and Lim the reason behind feelings: a picture book on the neurobiology of emotions” ist eine druckfertige Bilderbuchgeschichte für Kinder und ihre Eltern. Gemeinsam kann so das Thema Gefühle, Gefühlsentstehung und die dabei zu Grunde liegenden biologischen Prozesse auf spielerische und altersgerechte Weise thematisiert werden. Eine innovative, künstlerisch beeindruckende und insgesamt sehr gelungene Umsetzung.
Sonderpreis Metrohm – Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS)
Gymnasium Kirchenfeld, Bern 6
Lehrerin: Ursina Töndury