From Life Savers[R] to Glitter: Interactive Activities to Teach about Infectious Disease

Article excerpt


At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to:

1) examine the chain reaction of transmission of pathogens;

2) identify preventive methods for reducing the spread of pathogens;

3) increase awareness of susceptibility to pathogens; and

4) develop skills and strategies for healthy decision making.

Lesson Objectives

Through individual participation and culminating class discussions, the teacher will assess the students' ability to identify methods of pathogen transmission and prevention.

Assessment Criteria

Prior to the turn of the 20th century, the leading cause of death was infectious disease.[1] Despite significant improvements in public health, such as increased use of immunizations and treatment with antibiotics, infectious diseases still exist. However, new dimensions of infectious disease have created a need for increased attention. The school setting presents a prime location for the spread of pathogens. Extremely virulent viruses, for which there are neither immunizations nor an understanding of transmission, and an increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics pose new challenges for school health personnel.[1] School-aged children come in contact with pathogens in classrooms, playgrounds, restrooms, and cafeterias. School health educators must provide children with the knowledge and skills to prevent infectious disease. Through these activities, improved self-efficacy will increase perceived responsibility of disease prevention.

This three-activity lesson begins with the use of wet-wipes to reduce pathogens in the working environment. The "Wet-Wipe Clean Up" activity allows students to become aware of their surroundings while actively participating in reducing the risk of pathogen transmission. Activity two, "Not So Life Saving Life Savers," demonstrates susceptibility and the ease of transmission of communicable diseases through the sharing of lifesavers. "Glitter to Meet You," the third and concluding activity, allows students to observe and participate in generating the human chain reaction of the spread of pathogens.

Activity One: "Wet-Wipe Clean Up" (5-10 minutes)

We seldom think about the countless, unseen microscopic organisms that live in, on, and around us. Though many are beneficial, some can cause infectious diseases.[2] To begin this lesson, students participate in reducing pathogens in their surroundings using wet-wipes.

1) Distribute one wet wipe to each student.

2) Ask students to wipe the working surface area in front of them, such as the desk/table top, door knobs, and hand rails.

3) Have students hold up their wet wipes showing them to the rest of the class.

4) Discussion questions:

* Describe what your wet wipe looks like. Did you realize your working area was this dirty?

* Not all dirt contains harmful pathogens, but what can you do to reduce the possibility of transferring some of the harmful ones?

* Do the pathogens we found stay here on your desk all day, or do they travel with you? If so, where do they go?

Activity Two: "Not So Life Saving" (1 5-20 minutes)

Though we come in contact with numerous pathogens daily, they do not always cause disease. Transmission of disease is easy, but we can protect ourselves. Using different colors of Life Savers, students will discover the ease of disease transmission, learn that not everyone becomes infected, and discuss ways to protect themselves.

1) Distribute a sealed envelope containing one Life Saver to each student. For an average class size of 25, include one envelope containing a green Life Saver (representing a disease, ie, the flu), one containing an orange life-saver (representing another disease, ie, chicken pox), five containing a white Life Saver (representing protection, ie, hand washing), and 18 containing a red Life Saver (representing a student being free from disease when entering the classroom). …