Creating the Megaburgerz Educational Graphic Novel Series
The graphic novel series, Megaburgerz and the E. coli Outlaws¸ was created as an add-on to the Food and Nutrition Science (FNS) curriculum. The FNS curriculum is a project-based curriculum for secondary education students to learn about food and nutritional sciences. It includes four courses that are intended for secondary education classrooms: 1) food production, nutrition and health, 2) food science, 3) nutrition science, and 4) student research projects. The graphic novel was created to expand the reach of the curriculum and the impact it has on students’ knowledge of food safety by engaging students in food safety and foodborne illnesses in a different way. The series helps students understand the key points in preventing illness and allows them to use this knowledge in their own lives just by following along with the characters.
Megaburgerz and the E. coli Outlaws is a three-part series of graphic novels related to the food safety and science of E. coli. The idea was generated after reviewing other informative graphic novel series produced through the University of Nebraska, such as World of Viruses (University of Nebraska Press, 2015). The goal of these graphic novels was to capitalize on the previously discussed educational benefits by bringing awareness of food safety and the dangers of foodborne illnesses, specifically E. coli, to high school-aged students by using characters and short stories to translate scientific material into understandable and relatable concepts.
Megaburgerz is divided into three books, with each book building to form a complete story revolving around food safety. In book number one, two teens are hired at a local fast food restaurant and are immediately required to complete a food safety training. While one teen is eager to learn, the other continuously messes around – much to their boss’ chagrin. When the two teens both fall asleep during a boring food safety video, they are mysteriously transported to a bacteria wasteland where they must follow their boss’ lead and learn how to fight the infamous gang of E. coli outlaws.
Books two and three continue on with the teens’ learning and battles, as they learn not all bacteria are bad, how to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria by cleaning and washing their hands, disinfecting work spaces, chilling foods when they are not being cooked, and cooking beef to a safe temperature. The story culminates with the teens learning the battle with harmful strands of E. coli is never over, and they must always be vigilant. The story closes with the awakened teens eagerly awaiting their training at Megaburgerz and hints that their boss actually coordinated the entire experience in the bacteria wasteland. In total, the Megaburgerz series includes 60 pages of content. The reader is introduced to E. coli and the importance of simple food safety procedures, such as Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill (USDA). Additionally, it engages high school students in understanding scientific terms and lessons by allowing them to read creative and engaging short stories. Megaburgerz is a free resource and is available for download from the FNS curriculum webpage (www.ksu.edu/fns).
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