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Keywords:

  • Chagas disease;
  • education;
  • insect biochemistry;
  • Concept Maps

Abstract

We evaluate a new approach to teaching the basic biochemistry mechanisms that regulate the biology of Triatominae, major vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease. We have designed and used a comic book, “Carlos Chagas: 100 years after a hero's discovery” containing scientific information obtained by seven distinguished contemporary Brazilian researchers working with Triatominaes. Students (22) in the seventh grade of a public elementary school received the comic book. The study was then followed up by the use of Concept Maps elaborated by the students. Six Concept Maps elaborated by the students before the introduction of the comic book received an average score of 7. Scores rose to an average of 45 after the introduction of the comic book. This result suggests that a more attractive content can greatly improve the knowledge and conceptual understanding among students not previously exposed to insect biochemistry. In conclusion, this study illustrates an alternative to current strategies of teaching about the transmission of neglected diseases. It also promotes the diffusion of the scientific knowledge produced by Brazilian researchers that may stimulate students to choose a scientific career.Copyright © 2014 by The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 42(4):323–330, 2014.