Poisoner’s Handbook

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Just launched, our elaborate HTML5 interactive graphic novel, Tales from the Poisoner’s Handbook.

Follow forensic chemist Alexander Gettler and chief medical examiner Dr. Charles Norris through Jazz-Age New York as they solve four criminal cases with groundbreaking forensic science.

Using four case studies of lethal poisons, you can find the visual evidence, chemical trails, and supporting evidence to uncover the truth and learn some basics about biochemistry – the impact of poisons on the human body.

Each story contains lean-forward digital role-playing of detailed lab experiments. Students boil bones, mix chemicals, and examine tissue samples to discover how the actual science was conducted. This epistemic method of role-play also allows these dangerous poisons to be safely incorporated into a classroom.

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The project also contains an annotated gallery of contemporary images:

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Testing has been fun, on tablets and interactive whiteboards, as this has been designed for a variety of classroom uses:


It also took us to forensic labs and into classrooms where forensics is taught. Poking through the supply rooms has its surprises…

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The project complements a PBS/WGBH American Experience adaptation of Deborah Blum’s book about poison. The Poisoner’s Handbook premieres on PBS January 7, 2014 at 8/7c.

Credits? Follow the links within the novel to unearth the Responsible Parties. If you dare.

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Visitors and Demos

digital_demo-10-25-13-07Bill and Jillian chat with Jarmo Viteli, one of the visitors from TERC, Northern Illinois University and several major universities in Finland who all stopped by our office last week. The visit was part of ongoing project work with a team of US (NSF-funded) and Finnish investigators who are working together to leverage their currently funded work in measurement of game-based learning to take on radically different approaches to the measurement of STEM learning. The Finnish-US Network (FUN) applies their combined novel and interdisciplinary perspectives on learning to study the relationship between engagement and STEM learning outcomes in transmedia games.

Our visitors got to see presentations and demos from producers Bill, Marisa, Jillian, Melissa, and Gentry and designers Dan and Tara on ongoing projects including Peep and the Big Wide World, Next Generation Preschool Math and Design Squad Nation, and new projects including Plum Landing and Tales from the Poisoner’s Handbook.


Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 6.26.13 AMBill will be presenting recent work  from the GBH Kids Team in a talk entitled “Detectives, Aliens, Bullies, and Poisoners” at the first Boston MeetUp of StoryCode (at MIT 11/5)

StoryCode spotlights case-studies in current storytelling innovation, immersive narrative, and transmedia. Paul Turano from Wander, Wonder, Wilderness will also be presenting.

Anyone who would like to attend should RSVP through the Meetup.com page (by using an optional Facebook login if you don’t have a Meetup.com profile). Approx 50 seats.