What if a comic book could encourage kids to try harder in math?
Combining math, art and clever story-telling, this project tackles one of the most difficult math concepts to teach: fractions. Why fractions? That’s when many children begin to believe they’re “not good at math” and give up.
Fractions are also one of the most critical topics in school mathematics. If children aren't successful, then they'll struggle in all Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. Unfortunately, only 26% of US 8th grade students fully grasp fraction division.
Ms I.D. Vide in Newton's Nemesis No. 1 is a comic book that has already inspired over 100 children in low income schools to learn fractions.
If we raise $3000, vibrant color will be added to No. 1 and 500 copies will be donated to low income schools. WAIT! We reached $3000!!!
NEW STRETCH GOAL: If we reach $10,000, we'll give another 1000 comic books to low income schools.
The Impact of Color
Whether children are students of color, athletic soccer kids, or comic book nerds who sport rainbow bracelets, they'll find characters who are real and aren't math whizzes. But like any good friends, they stick together to solve Ms. I.D. Vide's puzzles throughout the three part series.
Theo lived in the fictitious town of Banneker, Maryland, where he got a new job puppy-sitting Newton. If only Newton didn't live next door to that strange old woman and her a creepy black cat named Pythagoras. The old witch was way too interested in Newton, and was planning something. But what? Any why was she so interested in Theo's math homework? Now that was weird! Almost as weird as his little sister. She LOVED math. He had no idea that she held the key to saving Newton from his nemesis, the mysterious old woman, Ms. I. D. Vide.
The new job. The fractions. His sister. It was giving Theo nightmares.
My name is Cindy Ticknor and I’m a former teacher and professor of mathematics education in the southern United States, where I live with my husband (an avid comic book collector). For years, I’ve worked with students and teachers who have struggled to find engaging resources that help children truly understand fraction arithmetic. My goal is to have children discover “why” algorithms work rather than memorizing strange rules like "keep-change-flip". Math is so much more than memorizing rules!
Inspired by my husband’s comic books, I developed the mysterious character Ms. I.D. Vide to trick children into learning concepts underlying fraction division and multiplication. She’s featured in the first issue, Newton’s Nemesis, and drawn by a talented art student at my university, Mr. Nathan Long. When he first read the script he said,
“It’s like Ms. Frizzle meets Scooby-Doo!”
The comic book is based on the best and most current research on learning math, including Jo Boaler and Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset. The underlying narrative in the comic book teaches children that it’s okay to struggle with problems and that struggling doesn’t mean you’re “bad” at math.
As a researcher in math education, I knew I needed to test the comic book with children before fully investing in it. So, Nathan created a black and white version and I asked teachers in four different low income schools to review it, and if they liked it, test it in their 5th grade classrooms. All four loved it and used the comic book to introduce fraction division with over 150 children.
The Results: On a 5-point Likert scale, Newton’s Nemesis scored 5's and 4.75 on every metric! Sample quotes:
- Teachers: “My students were highly engaged”; "[My students] didn’t realize that they were actually learning math. SUPERCOOL!!"
- Students: “The book was awesome. The cliffhanger got me. You should definately [sp] make more"; "I really, really like this book. I can't wait for the second one."
One of the teachers told me that her students kept asking her to read the book again, even children who normally weren't engaged with math. My husband once said, "A good comic book you'll read over and over." What if a child wanted to read a math book over and over?
My primary goal is to get the book into the hands of children in low income schools to make a difference.
But first, it needs color to bring out the diversity in the characters and make them even more relatable to all student. If we reach our goal of $3000, we will pay for coloring the book, printing copies, as well as taxes and fees associated with this campaign. If we pass $3000, up to 500 copies will be donated to low income schools and the rest be invested in testing and developing Newton’s Nemesis No. 2.
Every donated book will include a letter from me to the school acknowledging your gift (your contact information will be included only with your permission). The beta version of No. 2 will be available by April 1st and Early Bird investors will also get a Sneak Peak! We hope to have it ready by the new school year.
By investing in this project, you'll be kickstarting the entire series! We hope with the success of No. 1 & No. 2, those issues will make the series self-sustaining. It's the beginning of a new and unique series of math comic books, and you'll share our title of "Math Heroes".
The Mysterious Ms. I.D. Vide in Newton’s Nemesis No. 1 is a 20 page comic book aligned to 5th grade Common Core Standards. Each book comes with an electronic supplement package (e-Supplements) that includes a 14 page Guide for Teachers & Parents that details the educational theories and mathematics hidden in the book (e.g. the town of Banneker is named for the first African-American mathematician), and printable board games, puzzles and worksheets. You can see a video preview of the e-Supplements by clicking here!
*Low income schools are schools in the US defined by federal guidelines using participation in free and reduced lunch programs. All donations will be within 8 hour driving distance of my university and will include a note acknowledging the investor, with the investor's prior consent. All investors will be notified of the schools receiving the donation.
Stretch Goal $10,000
If we exceed our goal, we'll invest the remaining funds in marketing Newton's Nemesis directly to math teachers at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) regional conferences. Over 2500 teachers who want to learn about new ideas for their classrooms attend these events.
Our stretch goal would not only give 1000 additional comic books to low income schools, but it will also provide the funds to print a larger lot (reducing printing costs) and allow us to market the extra comic books to teachers. Your $10,000 investment would make this project self-sustaining!
Risks and challenges
Nathan's ready to color the art during the month of March and I've scheduled a printer for production. So the timeline is fairly straight forward:
• Kickstarter Campaign Feb 12 – March 14 (Pi Day!!!)
• Comic Book produced in full color by March-April
• Printing & Mailing Delivered by May 2019
• Part 2 Sneak Peak Delivered by May 2019
I'll update all the e-Supplements from black & white to full color in early April and they'll be sent out to arrive with the comic books or before.
As I distribute the comic books, though the time and travel costs could be challenging, I think it's worth it!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)