According to agovernment report from the Center for Disease Control up to 120 million Americans may show symptoms of the H1N1 swine flu as it continues to emerge in the United States, and the illness could kill from 30,000 to 90,000 people. As students head back to school further precautions are being taken to protect staff and students and prevent an large outbreak.
PART 1: What is a Virus and How Does it Spread? - 50 mins
To create student interest have students use their prior knowledge to answer the
questions on the What
Do You Know? handout. Encourage students to work in small groups to answer
each question. Allow approximately 5 minutes for this activity.
groups have finished answering questions, conduct an all class discussion by reviewing
the correct answer for each question and providing students with background information
and details about the answers to each question. Encourage students to take notes
as you discuss the questions as a class.
3. Write the word "virus"
on the board or overhead. Direct students to write their best definition of a
virus based on what was learned from the What
Do You Know? handout and class discussion.
4. Have students share their
definition of a virus and then provide the correct definition on the board or
overhead. A correct definition could be something such as: virus: a microorganism
that can cause a variety of diseases when it grows and reproduces in the living
cells of another organism.
5. Pose the following question for students:
"How do viruses spread?" Provide students with several minutes to brainstorm
and discuss this question. Write key words and ideas about how viruses spread
in the form of a list on the board or overhead.
6. To illustrate how a virus
can spread, conduct the following simulation with the class.
all students in the class to write their names on a piece of scratch paper and
place it on your desk.
- Collect all of the pieces of paper and randomly
choose the name of one student in the class and place it in an envelope. Do not
allow students to see the name of the person.
- Make a chart with 5 columns
on a large piece of paper, the board, or overhead.
- Choose a student (not
the one whose name appears in the envelope) to go around the classroom and shake
hands with four classmates. Record the name of that student at the top of column
1 and the names of the four classmates s/he shook hands with under his/her name.
Then write their names at the top of the four remaining columns.
these four students to go around the classroom and shake hands with four other
- Under each person's name, record the names of the four students
they shook hands with during the exercise.
- Open the envelope and reveal
the name of the person who has the virus.
- Study the chart and see how
many students were directly exposed to the virus by shaking this person's hand.
Study the chart again and see how many students were indirectly exposed to the
virus by shaking the hand of someone who had shaken the hand of the infected person.
Use this activity to discuss how viruses are transmitted from one person to another,
often unknowingly or before the signs of illness are present.
- Have all students wash their hands!
how this can lead to epidemics of an illness in a relatively short period of time.
PART 2: Examining the H1N1 Flu Virus - 50 mins
Write the term H1N1 Flu on the board or overhead. Conduct a class discussion about
what students already know about H1N1 flu by using questions such as:
- What is swine flu, also known as the H1N1 flu?
- What causes H1N1 flu?
is at risk for getting H1N1 flu?
- How is H1N1 flu transmitted?
was H1N1 flu discovered?
- Where are the greatest number of cases of H1N1
- Why is there so much concern about H1N1 flu worldwide?
is a pandemic?
2. Read the articles on the NewsHour
Global Health page with students and revisit the questions from step 7 above.
3. Discuss what the CDC says are the most effective actions people can
take to stay healthy.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when
you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based
hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs spread that way.
PART 3: Demonstrating What You Have Learned - 50 mins
Now that students have a basic understanding of viruses and how they are spread,
information about H1N1 flu, and knowledge of how vaccines are made, they should
create a project that demonstrates what they have learned and requires them to
conduct additional research to take their learning to a higher level.
Provide students time to choose a project and begin work on their research. Examples
could be create a map that shows the regions of the world where H1N1 flu cases
have been documented, create a model, flow chart, or diagram that explains the
mutation process viruses go through as they change over time, create an informational
display, pamphlet, or poster that could be used to educate people worldwide about
The amount of class time spent preparing projects should be based
on the time constraints of the individual teacher. Some additional class time
(at least part of 1 class period) will be needed for students to present their