Teacher Activity Sheet
Although some students have heard about bioterrorism, particularly the anthrax
bacterium, the idea of a biological attack may seem unreal to them. The
unexpected nature of the anthrax attacks as well as the fact that most students
and adults had not heard about the disease prior to fall 2001, may cause
students to react differently to the news. Providing facts about anthrax and
other agents may help alleviate some fears. Be conscious of providing
age-appropriate answers to your students when discussing these issues.
*Sources: Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, U.S.
What Are Bioagents?
Bioagents are biological agents that can be used for biowarfare. Anthrax is considered
one of the most likely bioagents to be used by bioterrorists. Students likely
will have heard many different facts about anthrax and may have formed
misconceptions about the disease. To explore students' understanding of
anthrax, have each student write down three facts they know and three questions
about the disease and hand them into you (tell students they do not need to
identify themselves). Discuss students' facts and questions, clarifying as
needed. (See Activity Answer for more information.) Repeat the exercise with
other bioagents students may have heard of, such as smallpox, plague, botulism,
tularemia, and Ebola virus.
Who Says What
Have students investigate media reports about 21st century
bioterrorism. Organize students into five groups to take notes on 1) bioweapons
development in the former Soviet Union, 2) bioweapons development in the United
States, 3) obstacles to developing bioweapons, 4) obstacles to delivering
bioweapons, and 5) facts about anthrax and smallpox.
After watching, have groups report on each category. Provide the same groups
with five other recent media sources and have them research how each reported
on the five categories and report their findings to the class. How do the
reports compare? Which sources gave the most facts? Which sources gave the
least? What might account for any factual differences? What emotional tone, if
any, did the reports convey?
What's Being Done?
All levels of government are responding to the bioterrorist attacks. To help
students understand the role of various groups and agencies, have them
investigate and report on actions being taken at the local, state, and federal
level. Resources for this information include:
Linguistic/Behavioral Analysis of Anthrax Letters
Find information about the scientific analysis of the anthrax-laced letters
mailed to television anchor Tom Brokaw, the New York Post, and Senator
Office of Homeland Security
Details current efforts by the Office of Homeland Security.
Lists directories of state health agencies and contact information for current
state health officials.
State and Local Efforts and Key Contacts
Provides information about specific state and local project efforts associated
with bioterrorism preparedness and response and includes information on
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Includes links to what agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and the
Food and Drug Administration are doing to counter bioterrorism.
Whom to Contact
National Association of School Psychologists provides information for parents,
educators, mental health professionals, and others as they cope with the
unsettling current events. Visit NASP's Web site for more information
4340 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
phone: (301) 657-0270
fax: (301) 657-0275