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University of Leicester researcher launches ‘STEM Heroes’ campaign
A researcher from the University of Leicester is combining her love for Japanese art with her passion for the sciences by launching a campaign to create the first instalment in a new manga series.
‘STEM Heroes’ follows the adventures of four high school girls using their amazing STEM skills – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – in order to solve mysteries and save the day.
The Japanese comic series, which is to be released in both Japanese and English, aims to teach science and technology through the adventures of four passionate and relatable student characters.
The creator, Dr Ana Verissimo from the University of Leicester Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, is a scientist with a passion for communicating science.
Ana said: “I’ve always loved science and talking about it. It’s great when non-scientists ask me questions and are curious about how things work. Everything around us uses STEM, from Wi-Fi, to anti-seismic buildings, to your cat’s microchip. Everyone should have access to basic knowledge on the usefulness of STEM, without all the complicated jargon.”
The script for the first story is written and the artistic work to create the four main characters - Mari, Jun, Miki and Yui - has already been commissioned.
The creator has tested the characters on real high school girls in Japan and has received positive feedback.
Ana added: “So far, the reaction has been very positive, the girls love the characters’ looks and individual skills. Mari loves biology and genetics (and cake!), Jun is passionate about maths and physics, Miki is a little engineer and Yui is a computer genius. Despite being mega smart, they are just like everyone else, a bit shy, a bit clumsy, a bit grumpy, a bit silly. I think those traits make them relatable and lovable.”
Ana is now seeking additional funding via Kickstarter for the project in order to cover the artistic work and the initial printing and publishing.
Ana explains: “I found myself an amazing Japanese artist to draw the manga, check out the characters for yourself on the blog or Twitter! I love them! But, of course, she does not work for free and printing and publishing also has costs, so I’m launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to illustrate and publish the first book of the series.
“Why crowdfunding? Well, apart from the obvious source of funding, I really like the idea of community and achieving something together. As rewards I will be offering the opportunity to have characters look like backers and everyone will get their name on the thanks list, as every contribution is very much appreciated, no matter how small. The book itself (English or Japanese, digital or printed) will obviously also be one of the rewards available. I am also open to feedback from backers during the campaign.”
Professor Helen Atkinson CBE, Graduate Dean at the University of Leicester, who has championed the education of young people in STEM subjects, said: "This is a fabulous idea and I really look forward to seeing the stories published. We need more women in science and engineering!"
Earlier this year Professor Atkinson was listed as one of the Top 50 women in engineering by the Daily Telegraph.
The Kickstarter page is available here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1501794305/stem-heroes-manga
More information about the project is available here: https://stemheroes.wordpress.com/press-release/
The ‘STEM Heroes’ Twitter account is available here: @stemheroesmanga
Images of the ‘STEM Heroes’ Mari, Jun, Miki and Yui are available here (Artist credit: Eri Mine): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/h93rcyal64yt659/AAC_UJPBhVb6w6k-RnKEdXFja?dl=0
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