STEM novel

Is this graphic novel STEM education’s secret sauce?

The secret to effective STEM education might be in a new Swedish graphic novel.

Educators and STEM advocates are always searching for engaging ways to keep students interested in STEM–and a new graphic novel that uses computational thinking to teach students to code might be the next big thing.

It’s no secret that STEM jobs, especially computer science, are growing more rapidly than the pool of qualified candidates to fill those jobs. But far too often, students lose interest in STEM at an early age, creating a stubborn pattern that many are hoping to break.

Curly Bracket, from Ashoka fellow and Swedish social entrepreneur Johan Wendt, is a combination textbook and graphic novel that builds students’ computational thinking skills.

It takes advantage of the graphic novel format to engage students with visual representations and active movement, and it shows with clarity each problem students must solve and why those problems are important.


The lead protagonist is a girl, which Wendt said was a non-negotiable when creating the book.

“We didn’t want to support existing structures and stereotypes–we wanted to change them,” he said. “In the book, Curly doesn’t solve her problems using any super powers; she simply pays attention to her studies and learns as a coder would learn. This is what we want to introduce to all kids.”

(Next page: How computational thinking helps students think like programmers)

Laura Ascione

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