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“How Viruses Travel” is the topic of this lesson plan




6, 7, 8  


Title – How Viruses Travel
By – Stephanie Simpkins
Primary Subject – Science
Secondary Subjects –
Grade Level – 6-8
How Viruses Travel by Stephanie Simpkins

Objective: Students will understand how certain viruses travel through a population by simulating the transmission of a communicable disease. Students will analyze data to identify the originally infected person and calculate the percent of infection after the simulated transmission process.

Materials:           One film canister, dark with lid, for each student, numbered 1-4
                    Baking soda
                    Paper for note taking
Prepare for the lesson: The teacher must fill the majority of the canister ½ way with flour. Fill a small percentage of the canisters with ½ way with baking soda. For a class of 16, fill two with baking soda, for a class of 24 fill, three with ½ way baking soda. On the bottom of each canister write a number 2-4 for the flour canisters, write the number 1 only on the baking soda canister.

Classroom procedure: Students are instructed to write down the name of two other students in the room. Next, students select a canister and return to their seat. Tell the students that some of them have just contracted a virus. They have not been diagnosed, so they do not know they have been infected. They are going to go to a party and share their drink with the two names on their list. If someone else comes to then to share, they must share. They cannot decline. Students are to go to each name on their list and exchange powders by pouring all the powder into one canister; then shake and the divide the power evenly back into the two canisters. Students write down the order of the students with whom they have exchanged powders. Ex: Lisa wrote down Kelly and Sue, but Emily wrote down Lisa and Amy- so Lisa would have Kelly, Emily, Sue on her notes. Once everyone has exchanged powders, the teach will pour vinegar into the canister. If baking soda is present, the powder will foam, if flour is the only powder in the canister the vinegar will sit on top of the flour and not foam.

Discussion: On the board, make a list of all the students who have been infected and the order they exchanged powders. Then make a list of all the students who have not been infected and the order they exchanged powders. Have the students work in groups to determine who they feel was the originator of the disease. Explain there may be more than one carrier. When the students feel they have determined the original carrier, patient zero, have them look at the bottom of their canister and identify the ones labeled “1”

Evaluation: Students will write a reflective summary based on their knowledge of virus transmission.

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