BHSc goes to Anime North!

BHSc goes to Anime North!

Starting in Fall 2016, the BHSc (Hons) Program began to offer a new course entitled HTHSCI 3FC3: Science of Fictional Characters, and inquiry-driven course led by Dr. Mike Wong.  Although it may

Dr. Mike Wong, dressed as Pikachu for the “mini-convention” on the last day of class, where students share their findings.

sound like a ‘fluffy’ course at first, that perception is quickly dispelled when you see what happens in the class — students undertake an in-depth exploration of the phyisological, cellular, anatomical, metabolic, psychological, chemical, and physical processes that would be required in order for some of our favourite fictional characters and universes to exist in the real world.  By focussing on fiction instead of reality, students’ skills in information seeking, adaptation and application of information, and hypothesis generation are challenged and developed in a whole new way.

After the end of the Winter 2017 semester, Dr. Wong and a group of 3FC3 students took their insights to the Anime North fan convention in Toronto, where they offered a panel discussion to attendees from the conference.  3FC3 student Dilshan Pieris describes the course and their experience at Anime North thusly:

How does the Flash run with superspeed? What explains Wolverine’s accelerated healing? How does Spider-Man climb building walls so effortlessly? Why does the Hulk transform when he’s angry? These are some of the questions that students in the “Science of Fictional Characters” course aim to answer. The premise of the course is to choose a fictional character and ground their seemingly supernatural abilities in science. While not humanly possible, superpowers can serve as a vehicle with which to explore scientific concepts by introducing fun and excitement into the learning process.
However, the excitement doesn’t stop in the classroom. Mike Wong (instructor) and several dedicated students hosted a panel about the science of superheroes at the renowned Anime North convention in Toronto, one of the largest of its kind in North America. Their exhibit quickly filled with keen individuals with a love for superheroes. The interdisciplinary backgrounds in the room allowed for rich discussion about which hero would be the best protector. Though there was no winner, everyone left the room with a newfound appreciation for not only the scientific basis of each character, but also the pedagogy surrounding the course.

A line of 8 smiling people, arms around shoulders, smiling for the camera.

Dr. Mike Wong (3rd from right) and students from the HTHSCI 3FC3: Science of Fictional Characters course pose after their panel at Anime North in Toronto.

The course has been offered 3 times already, with additional offerings planned for the 2017-18 academic year.  Dr. Wong and another group of students will be representing HTHSCI 3FC3 at the upcoming ConBravo! in Hamilton, July 28-30th 2017, and they’ve already been invited back to reprise their panel at Anime North in 2018.