Quantum Comic Strips (Quantum PhoComics): The New QET Labs Engagement Project

Alex Moylett and Henry Semenenko preparing for the presentation at Knowle West Media Centre

QET Labs recently added new activities to their highly developed public engagement culture. Among them is Quantum In Conversation, part of the QET Lab’s award wining engagement initiative, Quantum in The Crowd (http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2017/october/engagement-awards-2017.html). Quantum In Conversation now reaches out to the children and young people of all educational backgrounds to engage with quantum research in the visual/narrative forms through the ‘Quantum PhoComics’ project.

The project stemmed from the on-going collaboration between QET Labs and their Research Engagement Supervisor, artist and historian Dr Milica Prokic. In November Milica teamed up with QET PhD researchers, Henry Semenenko and Alex Moylett, to deliver a quantum inspired comic strips workshops to young Bristolians.

The first workshop in the series, hosted by the Knowle West Media Centre, included presentations and demos by the researchers, followed by an art session where the initial sketches and storylines were created by young people, aged 10-17 - Milica’s co-authors for Quantum PhoComics.

Dr Milica Prokic with the researchers’ demo props
Milica said:

"It is truly important to speak about quantum in the ways that are creative, approachable and comprehensible to the general public. One of the ways is certainly visual art, particularly when combined with bits of narrative. We hope that through Quantum Strips some of the young people will also discover that they have a knack for science."

Henry and Alex enjoyed the experience.

Henry said:

“Working with the young people from Knowle West Media Centre was a new experience which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was brilliant to see young people engaging in our research and I hope they learned something about the weird and wonderful world of quantum mechanics. I am eager to see the comic strips that come out of it."

Alex added:

“It is not often that we get to work closely with young people, let alone see what they take away from an activity with us. Seeing the kids eagerly getting involved with the science we do was an amazing experience, and one that I would love to see happen again.”

The collaboration between QET Labs and Milica started as a single painted illustration of a quantum researcher’s project, and expanded through conversations with other researchers, whose narratives provided material for a series of illustrations (https://quantumtalksblog.wordpress.com/quantum-gallery/). Building on these visualised narratives, the online platform Quantum in Conversation was created as an invitation to the public to join in.

Quantum Strips are a step further in this narrative/visual conversation about quantum, towards the development of the quantum-inspired graphic novel.

The graphic novel will look into the quantum technology and engineering and their impact on our world, with the particular focus on the ethical implications of informing the public on further advances in the field.

Quantum PhoComics art session at the Knowle West Media Centre

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