BAM! Teen scientist from Nashua creates award-winning comic

Sunday News Correspondent
April 13. 2018 7:40PM
Julie Sage is not only a science fan, but is also encouraging other young females to get involved in science initiatives, coding and comics. (Courtesy)

NASHUA -- Using her passion for science, a 13-year-old girl from Nashua is taking creativity to the next level in an attempt to lure more females into the field.

Julie Seven Sage, an eighth-grader at Pennichuck Middle School, recently created a superhero comic that promotes fun scientific facts while also advancing the arts and literature.

Sage's comic, dubbed "Estron," received a second-place finish in the middle school division of the National Science Foundation's Generation Nano: Superheroes Inspired by Science comic contest.

The unique comic follows a young woman and her challenges as she creates her own exosuit and is eventually forced to use the suit in an effort to catch a robber.

Sage had no intention of trying to write a short comic until she fell in love with "The Unstoppable Wasp," a Marvel comic with eight issues that features Nadia Pym, a young lady who tries to form a club of girl geniuses but faces different obstacles from evil scientists.

"I really connected with Nadia," said Sage, who learned about the national comic contest and decided to give it a try.

She spent countless hours writing out different ideas, researching topics, drawing a character and creating rough sketches by hand. After perfecting her original concept, Sage used Adobe Illustrator to form the final version.
Julie Sage’s comic features a superhero named Estron who uses science to help fight crime. (Courtesy)

Throughout the storyline, Sage introduces several neat science facts to help keep her readers engaged and educated. One of those facts involves metal foam, which can obliterate an armor-piercing bullet, according to Estron, which is also the name of her new superhero. 

"I am fascinated with metal foam. I am obsessed with the material," Sage said. "I did a report in sixth grade about metal foam, which is actually bulletproof and will shatter a bullet. I just found that really cool."

Sage says not many young women are interested in science, but she is determined to shatter any negative connotations associated with STEM fields.

"It is important to have females in the STEM fields because it is important not only to have diversity, but also important to have more ideas," she said, adding different personalities and intellects can merge together nicely to create new and unique theories.

Outside of her new comic hobby, Sage is a mentor for young girls learning how to code. She also publishes her own science news show on YouTube called "Supernova Style Science News."

While Sage does not expect to pursue a career in comics, she does have high hopes of becoming an astrophysicist, something she has dreamed about since she was 6 years old, she said.

Still, her comic ventures might not be completely over.

"Out of this competition I came up with a new idea that I will hold onto for now, and build and work on at a later time. I will keep that one a mystery," she said.

The National Science Foundation, in partnership with the National Nanotechnology Initiative, created the Generation Nano competition as a way to challenge middle and high school students to imagine novel superheroes who use the power of science and technology to solve crimes or tackle societal challenges, according to a release.

Participants share their stories through short comics or videos, and their scores are based on the use of science, technology, creativity, artistry and technical quality, says the release.

Other contest winners include students from Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, according to a release.

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