Epidemic! The Natural History of Disease.  At the San Diego Natural History Museum

Post-visit Activities

 

For Elementary Students

 

Can You Solve the Mixed-up Microbe Mystery?

The case of the dragon that caused diarrhea. Have students help figure out the correct order of steps a disease detective takes to solve the outbreak mystery, use pages 12 and 13 of Infection, Detection, and Prevention, or the online Mixed-up Microbe Mystery on the American Museum of Natural History website. (Remember to bookmark this page, so you can come back easily.)

Top 10 Things You Can Do to Fight Infectious Diseases

Use the Prevention Convention on page 14 of Infection, Detection, and Prevention to discuss every day things students can do to avoid infectious diseases. Have students vote on which measures are most important and why. (They are all important!) There's an online version on the AMNH website, with a link to a print and color copy.

BAC!'s Story: In His Own Words!

Invite students to write a short adventure story from bacteria's point of view, featuring their efforts to stay alive and multiply. Encourage students to include several food safety mistakes that help bacteria multiply, and several good food safety habits that keep bacteria from multiplying. Have students illustrate their stories with their own portraits of bacteria. For background information on "Four Simple Steps to Food Safety," go to the educators' Fight BAC! Game Plan for Food Safety on the Partnership for Food Safety Education website.

 

For Upper Elementary and Middle School Students

 

Multiplying Bacteria

Have students imagine a fictional bacteria that will reproduce once every 30 minutes at room temperature (70 degrees F), once every 10 hours when cooled in the refrigerator at 40 degrees F, and once every 7 hours when heated in the oven at 120 degrees F. Now challenge them to figure out and chart: How many bacteria would be present in each location after 1 hour? 2 hours? 6 hours? 1 day? Through this exercise, what can they hypothesize about how temperature affects bacterial growth?

Reports from the Field

  1. Microbe Field Report
    Summarize the data you and your classmates have collected on the various disease-causing microbes. How do microbes enter the human body? What are various ways you can protect yourself from microbes?
  2. Hantavirus Cycle Report
    Report and discuss: How does the environment affect the cycle? How would you prevent this cycle from continuing? Which part of the cycle would you take care of first? How can people protect themselves from hantavirus?

Infection! Play the Game Where YOU Are the Germ!

Given all the ways germs can enter your body, why don't you get sick all the time? Your body has powerful defenses! Play the game on pages 6 and 7 of Infection, Detection, and Prevention and see how your immune system works. Discuss the benefits and risks of immunization and vaccinations and the effect that inappropriate use of antibiotics has on resistance. You can also play online on the American Museum of Natural History site. (Requires Shockwave)

 

For High School Students

 

Reports from the Field

  1. Microbe Field Report
    Summarize the data you and your classmates have collected on the various disease-causing microbes. How do microbes enter the human body? What are various ways you can protect yourself from microbes?
  2. Hantavirus Cycle Report
    Report and discuss: How does the environment affect the cycle? How would you prevent this cycle from continuing? Which part of the cycle would you take care of first? How can people protect themselves from the hantavirus?

It's the People!

History shows that people have played a major role in bringing about infectious diseases by drastically changing the environment to be conducive to infections. Taking a specific infectious disease, such as tuberculosis (TB), discuss how urbanization, technology, industrialization, and/or social culture tip the balance in favor of microbes and the spread of disease. Discuss what students can do on an individual level to prevent the spread of TB. See references for resources on TB.

Culture Defines Behavior

Have students do a research project on how infectious disease is diagnosed and treated in a different culture, using different methods, or in another time period. What knowledge and information is used by people in other cultures or time periods? Some epidemics actually change the course of history. Students may want to research some of these epidemics: Black Death; smallpox and the Incas and Native Americans; malaria during World War II.

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Taking it Further

Banner microbe: Adenovirus (virus causing common cold)
from the American Museum of Natural History Epidemic! exhibition

Teacher's Guide | Epidemic! | Exhibits