Lesson Plan

Epidemiology: Solve the Outbreak

This is a middle school science lesson for students on the field of epidemiology and the dissemination of diseases.
Craig L.
Technology coordinator
San Diego County Office Of Education
San Diego, CA
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My Grades Pre-K, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts

Students will be able to...

  • Define epidemiology and demonstrate knowledge of this career path.
  • Describe the spread of disease and ways outbreaks can be avoided or prevented.
  • Learn about vaccines and the role of modern medicine in disease prevention.
Grades 6 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Activity: Other — NOVA Flu Epidemic Simulation

Through this activity, students will participate in 6 simulations in order to model the spread of an infectious disease among a population.

Visit the PBS NOVA Science Now Activity Website for detailed instructions.

Students will move around the classroom with multi-colored sticky notes in hand representing a virus and vaccine. At the end of each simulation, teachers and students will complete a data table and draw correlations.

Teacher note: I used this in my classroom and it was a great way to get students kinesthetically engaged in the lesson and it was also a powerful visual for how diseases are spread. It's great to set some basic rules and parameters such as "no running" to ensure student safety.

2 Direct Instruction

The PBS Learning Media lesson Epidemiologists: Disease Detectives is rich in video, discussion prompts, and activities to introduce students to epidemiology, disease outbreaks, and the role of public health department.

I especially like the video resource, John Snow: Pioneer of Epidemiology

The Disease Detectives lesson is very engaging, especially when it comes to the high quality PBS videos incorporated in the lesson. Feel free to use the lesson in its entirety or use pertinent media resources, activities, and discussion questions to meet your intended goals and time constraints.

Here's how I would use the resource for this lesson:

1) Show John Snow: Pioneer of Epidemiology video

2) Give definition of epidemiologist. Discuss career facts and statistics about epidemiologists.

3) Discuss vaccines and the role of modern medicine in controlling disease outbreak

3 Guided Practice

You Make Me Sick!
$89.70 for classroom/ $9.99 for household

Students will learn more about the dissemination and prevlaence of germs and disease by playing the "You Make Me Sick" game. 

The game focuses on students creating and spreading disease.

This game will be used to reinforce the exponential spread of disease.

4 Independent Practice

For independent practice, students will move from the previous game, where they were creating and spreading germs, to this "Solve the Outbreak" app, where students set out on a mystery to solve serious epidemics.

Students will be lead through a series of questions, prompts, and data in order to solve simulated real-life disease outbreaks. The tool can also be great practice for students for standardized testing for science based on its multiple choice format, reading comprehension requirements, and graph interpretations throughout.

Each case should take approximately 20 minutes for each student to complete.

There are links for more information to offer a diversified learning experience for users.

The game has a badge system and can track correct responses for student assessment.

Teacher Tip: It's important to cycle through the room and make sure students are making informed, educated decisions for the case rather than flying through them.

5 Wrap-Up

For this lesson I created an exit slip quiz for students using the socrative student app. I created this quiz in order to assess whether or not students achieved the learning objectives at the beginning of the lesson.

Here'sthe quiz I gave my students.