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Posted at 09:51 AM ET, 12/21/2011

Teaching STEM: From comic books to video games

We often mention, on this blog, the growing concern in the United States that not enough students are taking on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in school. Well, it appears GE had a similar problem...in 1953.

While the federal government is turning to video games to get kids into the math and sciences, back in the day comic books provided a near-direct link to young minds. But the medium wasn’t warmly received by the older generation (sound familiar?), and the company debated whether it was worth taking a hit with parents in order to appeal to their kids, according to the company blog, GE Reports :

“Teachers, parents and lawmakers were bitter about newsstand comics in 1945,” General Electric Review wrote in September 1953. “But in the public relations field, although [we] were all aware of the adult fear that comic books were producing a crop of juvenile delinquents, we couldn’t escape the conclusion that the medium had attractive possibilities for mass communications.”

It was decided: GE would start printing comic books to the tune of 500,000 to 3 million. Titles included “Adventures in Jet Power”, “Adventures inside the Atom” and “Land of Plenty: A Story of Freedom and Power”.

Given the nature of comics consumption these days, not to mention the variety of media available to distract kids from reading full-on books, video games are likely to be a better bet. But the parallel of needing to reach kids where they are in two very different eras is notable.

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By  |  09:51 AM ET, 12/21/2011

 
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