Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Search NOVA Teachers

Back to Teachers Home

Brain Eater, The

Classroom Activity


Objective
To experience the challenges of developing public health strategies.

Materials for each team
  • copy of "Public Health Task Force" student handout (PDF or HTML)
Procedure
  1. The occurrence of Mad Cow Disease illustrates the complex relationships among science, public policy, and public health. Students can experience the challenges of developing public health strategies in this activity.

  2. Divide students into teams and distribute copies of the "Public Health Task Force" student handout.

  3. Have each team choose a disease from the list below, which represent a diverse range of causes, communicability, mode of transmission, and individual and social factors influencing their spread. Each team will research its disease in Part I and devise public health strategies for limiting the spread of the disease in Part II.

  4. Conclude by having teams present and justify one recommendation to the class. Encourage class discussion about each strategy's effectiveness, implementation, opposition, and balance between individual rights and public welfare.

Suggested Diseases

  • tuberculosis (antibiotic-resistant)
  • AIDS
  • cholera
  • rubella (German Measles)
  • malaria
  • infectious mononucleosis
  • scarlet fever
  • influenza

See Disease Facts in Activity Answer below for a brief summary of how each disease is caused and transmitted.

Activity Answer

From their research, students should be able to identify the cause of the disease, the mode of transmission, and methods for prevention or cure. See chart below.

Recommendations from each team will vary. Students may have to infer information regarding actions and circumstances affecting the spread of disease. Sample strategies for limiting spread of disease might be making sure food is well cooked, wearing isolation gowns when caring for ill individuals, using community water treatment facilities, implementing education campaigns, and setting up quarantines. Students may want to consider familiar public health campaigns, such as anti-smoking or AIDS prevention, as models for strategies. As they prepare to support their recommendation, students should consider the effectiveness of their strategy, how it will be implemented, and potential opposing views.

Disease Facts


Disease


Caused by


Mode of transmission

tuberculosis
(antibiotic-resistant)

bacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis

mainly through airborne droplets

AIDS

HIV retrovirus

exchange of body fluids (primarily semen and blood), contaminated blood product, or hypodermic needle

cholera

bacterium,
Vibrio cholerae

fecal-contaminated food and water or raw/undercooked seafood

rubella
(German Measles)

rubella virus

airborne droplets

malaria

protozoan of the genus Plasmodium

disease-carrying female Anopheles mosquito

infectious mononucleosis

Epstein-Barr virus

airborne droplets or carrier's saliva

scarlet fever

bacterium, Streptococcus pyrogens

contact with strep throat carrier

influenza

various influenza viruses

airborne droplets

Teacher's Guide
Brain Eater, The
BUY THE VIDEO PROGRAM OVERVIEW VIEWING IDEAS CLASSROOM ACTIVITY IDEAS FROM TEACHERS RELATED NOVA RESOURCES




Video is not required for this activity
   

Support provided by