Labeled as the ultimate DIY guide, Maker Comics: Conduct a Science Experiment, by Der-shing Helmer, gives young readers a thorough guide to conducting their own experiments in their own homes and backyards. You’ll find yourself wanting to experiment along with the characters!
Reed spends most of his time on the internet, gaming with his friends. His moms are worried he’s spending too much time online, so while they’re away during summer vacation, they cut off his internet access for a week. His older sister, Olive, who is in college studying to become a science teacher, joins him at home that week to be his own personal science tutor. Not exactly the fun way Reed wants to end his summer!
Right away, Olive puts eggs in vinegar in the fridge, labeling them for an experiment. Reed wants to mope around, missing his friends online, but she has other plans for their time together. He thinks what she’s doing is a waste of time. He does not care about science, especially since it’s summertime. As the week goes on, Olive’s experiments get more and more elaborate, using a number of different materials and spaces around their house. She even uses their breakfast to teach Reed about macromolecules and what makes up our food.
Early on in the story, Olive lays out the basics of proper lab procedures and the scientific method, sharing pages from her notebook. Andrea Bell’s art presents this vital background information in such a colorful and cartoonish way, making it very appealing and readable. Even the most STEM hesitant reader may find themselves pulled in by this point.
Each experiment is laid out with extremely specific detail, both in written and visual description. Safety is stressed from the very beginning, with the book itself starting with the basics of STEM safety. As the experiments get more complex, caution is advised while still inspiring young scientists to have fun. For example, one of the final experiments, Spot the Spot, encourages readers to observe the features of the sun with repeated, bold warnings to never look directly at the sun.
There is a plot twist to Olive and Reed’s story about halfway through the novel that amps up the book’s focus on the siblings’ relationship, which is a welcome interruption between the experiments. Reed’s curiosity is piqued and his interest continues to blossom. As the book concludes, Olive reminds him that science is more than just a class in school. STEM is all around them with scientists always working to discover more. Some scientists even share memes on social media! Learning about science can be a hobby, a fun way for Reed to connect with his friends.
Maker Comics: Conduct a Science Experiment is a valuable resource for any science classroom. Its back matter consists of a glossary, additional lab safety tips, and the basics of scientific research. All of these can easily be used in a classroom. The graphic novel could help both students struggling with science and those who already can’t stop doing experiments. The featured experiments can easily be replicated at home, classroom, or in the library. Budding scientists will find themselves revisiting this graphic novel time and time again.
Maker Comics: Conduct a Science Experiment!
By Der-shing Helmer
Art by Andrea Bell
Macmillan First Second, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: 9-13
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13)