VNT students using creative superpowers to help younger students

Students in Huntington North High School teacher Jessica Misiora’s Integrated Chemistry and Physics class are depicted as cartoon characters, made on the Pixton computer program they used to create comic books featuring elements of the periodic table. The assignment was part of a Viking New Tech project the students worked on during remote learning.
Students in Huntington North High School teacher Jessica Misiora’s Integrated Chemistry and Physics class are depicted as cartoon characters, made on the Pixton computer program they used to create comic books featuring elements of the periodic table. The assignment was part of a Viking New Tech project the students worked on during remote learning. Graphic provided.

Some Huntington North High School Viking New Tech students have been using their creative superpowers to put together some engaging comic books aimed at helping younger pupils become more familiar with the elements.

Fourteen sophomore students in teacher Jessica Misiora’s Integrated Chemistry and Physics class each chose a “family” on the periodic table and wrote a story about the group of elements in a comic format, using a computer program called Pixton to create avatar characters. Those characters, each representing an element such as boron, nitrogen or gold, interact with their “family members” in the graphic story.
Misiora says the assignment was in response to the remote learning environment that students have been working under the past few weeks during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“Sometimes I think when they are just sitting at the computer it can be kind of mundane and repetitive, so I wanted to do something that would be little bit more interactive,” she says, “so we decided to do the comic books and take a new spin on it where they try to personify an element and explain a whole ‘family,’ a whole column of the periodic table.”

Students showcased each element’s properties in the unique, online-based assignment, rather than graphing and what assignments they would do in a normal classroom, Misiora says.

“The idea was, they were going to show how that family is similar, but also has some different characteristics as well, by personifying them and making them seem like people,” she says.

Once completed, the Viking New Tech students usually present their research on the elements to a younger, middle school class that is getting a first introduction to the periodic table. But with school closures and social distancing making a classroom presentation impossible, Misiora instead posted the students’ comics on the HNHS Facebook page, thus sharing their creativity with anyone who would like to read them.

“Next year, hopefully, when we have more time in school, we’ll go visit one of the younger grades,” she adds.

Misiora says her VNT sophomore students produced exceptional work this year on the project, much the same as they would do in the real work world after they leave high school.

“They really do a great job of putting their best foot forward and trying new things,” she says. “They’re always up for a challenge and they just really do a fantastic job ofmeeting the challenge they’ve been presented with. … I think it really showcases what kids are capable of, because they didn’t have me to stand in front of them and say, ‘OK, this is your next step.’ They really took initiative completely on their own, and I’m really proud of them for that.”

One of those students, Grace Rice, created her comic book on the Metalloids family, which includes the elements of Boron, Silicon, Germanium and Arsenic. Rice says she drew her story line from what she says are “interesting powers” of the elements.

“I knew most of their characteristics and everything already,” she explains. “When I was making it, it was easier for me to comprehend what I was writing down and making.”

Rice based her comic book on a conflict and resolution storyline, with each element portrayed as a member in a family that has some typical struggles.

“Our family has many powers like low electricity and we are very brittle,” says Germanium, the “dad” in the story.

“Arsenic is like the evil character,” Rice says. “She gets in trouble by the cops and runs away. And then I break it down to where like the kids (Boron and Silicon) are in uniforms where they are superheroes, and then trying to find their parents.”

Some surprise characters pop up as well to add a little twist to the plot, such as a unicorn who points the kids in the right direction to find their mom.

“They end up just being a family again,” she says. “I just kept adding stuff to it and working more on it. It’s just been kind of sitting on my computer.”

Rice says she enjoyed the challenge of the project, which made her think and make something out of the assignment.

“That’s really why I like VNT, because I like being hands-on and doing things,” she adds.

The students’ comic books can be accessed on the Huntington North High School Facebook page by scrolling back to posts made between April 6 and April 10.