BIF! POW! BANG! The new coronavirus wreaking havoc on our fair planet is no match for a squad of Husker superheroes.
Nebraska researchers joined forces with comic artist Bob Hall to create a series of comics that tells the gripping tale of the virus that causes COVID-19. The one-page comics are designed to both entertain and teach middle school students – and their older siblings and parents – about the science and public health of viruses and infectious diseases.
The comics, published online weekly since June, will continue through December 2020. Then they will be compiled, along with essays and other material, into a single publication. The coronavirus comics are the eighth in a series of comic projects by Nebraska’s World of Viruses education program.
“We hope that kids will become curious enough to learn more about the science of viruses and, in particular, the science of SARS-CoV-2,” said Judy Diamond, professor and curator at the University of Nebraska State Museum.
Diamond and Elizabeth VanWormer, assistant professor in veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences, lead an interdisciplinary team of researchers who develop stories and disseminate the comics through social media and other online formats. Each week, a cast of characters, including the villainous virus, conveys a scientific principle, such as how viruses mutate, how vaccines work or how viruses jump from animals.
Researchers will invite 10,000 middle school students in Lincoln Public Schools to give feedback on the comics’ effectiveness.
Diamond said the comics’ success is due to their authenticity. She credits the collaboration with Hall, a former Marvel and DC Comics artist based in Nebraska.
“Our priority is that they be good comics – dynamic, a little crazy,” she said. “This is not your ordinary educational comic.”
Take that, coronavirus!
The National Science Foundation’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning funds this project.
Nebraska news release: Coronavirus-themed comics aiming to educate, engage
World of Viruses website: C’rona Comix
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