How a Dawson College chemistry professor uses superheros to teach science

Click to play video: 'Mixing comics and science at Dawson College' Mixing comics and science at Dawson College
WATCH: A professor at Dawson College is a whiz at chemistry, but he also happens to be a lifelong comic fan. As Global's Billy Shields reports, Yann Brouillette uses Marvel movies and comic books to help his students learn about science – Oct 4, 2018

Yann Brouillette, by his own admission, is a dyed-in-the-wool comics fanatic. He’s also, by many accounts, an excellent chemistry professor.

Where he gets the greatest marks, however, is by combining the two in his classes.

“It’s still fiction,” said Daniel Roy, one of his students. “But there’s some actual use behind it.”

While he was talking with Global News, Brouillette’s class was going through various abilities of the upcoming movie character “Venom” and determining whether they represented chemical or physical changes. Superheroes, he said, are “modern-day mythology and we can talk about them and use them to explain science.”

In one experiment he showed to Global News, he created a sort of a silly putty with a material called iron oxide, which is ferrous enough to react to powerful magnets. Using a powerful magnet dressed as Spiderman, the ball of black goo engulfed the magnetic superhero in exactly the same fashion it would in the comics.

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READ MORE: ‘Venom’ review — Atypical superhero movie is bizarre and messy, but weirdly fun

“If you take an actual superhero from the comic books and you put him in the real world, our universe, how would his powers be shown? What’s the science behind it?” said Jasmine Paradis, one of Brouillette’s students. She is studying criminology and psychology at Dawson and grew up reading comic books herself.

Brouillette gave one bit of homework before class ended Thursday: watch the Venom film when it comes to theatres Friday.

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