Resources for Teachers and Students

Learn more about public health education resources for elementary, middle and high school, and college students and find links to resources pdf icon[PDF – 16 pages] for educators to help bring public health concepts into classrooms.

Case Studies

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Data Sets
  • CDC Data and Statistics
    Links to most of the publically available CDC data sets. A starting place for educators who want to involve their students in analysis of public health data. Some data sets require considerable expertise, but summary reports and other data sets require little or no background in programming and data analysis.
  • GIS (Geographic Information System) Exchange
    Collection of maps and graphical data on various health problems, and GIS resources.
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)
    National or state-specific data on behaviors, risk factors, and other topics ranging from alcohol to women’s health for each year from 1995 to 2013. Updated annually.
  • Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS)
    Data from periodic surveys on behaviors, risk factors, and other topics ranging from alcohol and other drug use to weight control among middle and high school students. Not all states are represented.
  • National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
    Reports and documentation of methods used to collect data for this survey used to monitor the state of the nation’s health. Includes tutorials on how to access and analyze data from 1999 and later.
  • National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)
    Summary reports and information on the health status of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population obtained through confidential interviews conducted in households by Census Bureau interviewers.
  • National Health Care Surveys
    Summary reports and information on a group of surveys designed to answer key questions about factors influencing the use of health care resources, quality of health care including safety, and disparities in health care services provided to population subgroups in the United States.
  • Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)external icon
    Downloadable data sets on potential adverse reactions to vaccines, 1990–2015.

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E-Learning
  • CDC Learning Connection (CDC LC)
    One-stop learning resource that can help increase public health knowledge and skills and meet professional development needs. Includes quality e-learning, a monthly newsletter, Quick-Learn lessons for mobile learning, and CDC TRAIN public health learning management system (LMS).
  • CDC TRAINexternal icon
    Gateway into TRAIN National, a comprehensive catalog of public health learning products. TRAIN is a widely used LMS and is a free service of the Public Health Foundation. Target audience is public health workforce but educators and students will find it useful.
Epidemiology Textbooks
  • Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice, 3rd Edition
    Developed as a training tool for entry-level public health workers. Describes basic epidemiology principles, concepts, and procedures; provides a foundation for studying and teaching applied epidemiology; explains how to calculate and interpret frequency measures (ratios, proportions, and rates) and measures of central tendency; and explains use of tables, graphs, and charts to organize, summarize, and display data. Highly recommended as a standard reference for Disease Detectives event competitors, coaches and event supervisors.
  • Basic Epidemiology, 2nd edition pdf icon[PDF – 226 pages]external icon
    Originally written by the World Health Organization to strengthen education, training and research in the field of public health. More than 50,000 copies have been printed, and it has been translated into more than 25 languages. Presents public health and applied epidemiology from an international perspective. Good section on experimental error. When used with Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice makes a great tool for Disease Detectives event competitors, coaches and event supervisors.
Fellowship Programs
General Public Health Resources
  • CDC.gov
    Homepage includes A–Z index of hundreds of topics, also accessible via specific health-related pages. Information on descriptions of symptoms, treatments, and prevention strategies for many illnesses and conditions, as well as graphs and illustrations suitable for use in classroom settings.
  • CDC Public Health Image Library (PHIL)
    Online collection of downloadable photos, videos, and illustrations. Most of the images are in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions.
  • CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
    A weekly publication by the CDC containing data on specific diseases as reported by state and territorial health departments and reports on infectious and chronic diseases, environmental hazards, natural or human-generated disasters, occupational diseases and injuries, and intentional and unintentional injuries. Archives include initial reports of historic events.
  • CDC DPDx Parasite A–Z Index
    Collection of information, photos, and diagrams related to diagnosing and treating parasitic diseases.
  • CDC Emerging Infectious Disease Journal
    A monthly open access journal representing the scientific communications component of CDC’s efforts against the threat of emerging infections.

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In Person Activities
Lesson Plans and Other Teaching Materials
  • CDC Science Ambassador Lesson Plans
    More than 60 lesson plans on a variety of public health topics, developed by CDC Science Ambassadors in collaboration with CDC subject matter experts for use in science classes.
  • CDC Epidemiology and Public Health Science Core (EPHS) Competencies for High School Students pdf icon[PDF – 33 pages]
    A description of the skills and abilities students should be able to demonstrate after completing a course in EPHS. These are organized along the same lines and align with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) Recommended Critical Component Elements of an Undergraduate Major in Public Health; and the enduring understandings of epidemiology.
  • CDC Epi Info™
    Described as a “public health suite of interoperable software tools designed for the global community of public health practitioners and researchers” the user guide and tutorials provide a useful set of resources on epidemiology and biostatistics for educators and students.
  • Epidemiology Education Movementexternal icon
    Grassroots effort to promote the teaching of epidemiology to middle- and high-school students.
  • Evolving Textexternal icon
    Website for disseminating Understanding the Fundamentals of Epidemiology — An Evolving Text and other learning materials developed for teaching the introductory epidemiology course for majors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology.
  • ActivEpi Webexternal icon
    Free, online electronic textbook for teaching epidemiology and biostatistics. Contains 15 chapters, a full range of learning activities, and instructor materials.
  • Epidemiology and the Energy Balance Equationexternal icon
    Epidemiology curriculum focused on physical activity and nutrition for science, mathematics, and health teachers.
  • Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectionsexternal icon
    NIH Curriculum Supplement for High School focuses on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and their impact on society.
  • The Science of Healthy Behaviorsexternal icon
    NIH Curriculum Supplement for Middle School focused on the scientific study of behavior and how behavioral and social factors influence health.
  • NIH Curriculum Supplement Seriesexternal icon
    NIH Curriculum Supplements are guides to 2 weeks of lessons on the science behind health topics.
  • Epivilleexternal icon
    Web-based learning tool on the principles of epidemiology developed by the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.
  • Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES)external icon
    Downloadable teaching units for incorporating epidemiology as an interdisciplinary science in high-school classrooms. Units are grouped by discipline (biology, social sciences, environmental science, health education, statistics, English, and chemistry).
  • John Snow Websiteexternal icon
    Website devoted to all things dealing with the Father of Epidemiology (John Snow not Jon Snow) including a collection of maps of London from 1846, 1856, 1859 and 1872.

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Non-Fiction Books

Note: Although the below books are at an adult reading level, most are written for a general audience and suitable for use by high school students. Especially recommended for Disease Detective teams, tying public health in with the social sciences or introducing young people to public health. Many are out of print but all are available through on-line dealers and used book stores.

  • Barry, John M.  The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History. 2004, Penguin Books, New York.  An excellent account of the 1917-1918 flu pandemic put in the context of changes and advances in both medicine and science.  The book does a great job of describing the challenges of knowledge gaps and the early careers of investigators, such as Oswald Avery, who later went on to become leaders in the field.
  • DeKruif, Paul.  Microbe Hunters. 1926, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York. It is not very often that one finds a book that is almost 100 years old on a list of books for young people.  However, this account of the lives and contributions of 13 researchers is a classic and a must-read for serious students.
  • Dworkin, Mark S.  Outbreak Investigations Around The World: Case Studies in Infectious Disease Field Epidemiology. 2010, Jones and Bartlett, Sudbury MA.  A collection of 19 outbreak-related case studies, ranging from an epidemic of mumps in Iowa to the 2001 anthrax release, written by those involved in the investigations.  A modern version of Eleven Blue Men with a Midwestern influence. 
  • Garrett, Laurie. The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance. 1995, Penguin Books, New York. Some consider this book to be to emerging infectious diseases what The Silent Spring was to environmental poisoning. Zika virus is the most recent in a litany of pathogens that have made the news since this book was written in 1995.  
  • Gaynes, Robert P. Germ Theory: Medical pioneers in infectious diseases, 2011 ASM Press, Washington DC. An engaging account of the lives and contributions of 13 men and women whose work served as the foundation for our understanding of the role of microbes in disease.  Readers get a rich and detailed look at these historic people, some famous in popular culture like Pasteur and Koch, and others whose influence may not be as well known.
  • Johnson, Steven. The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How it Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World. 2006. Riverhead Books, New York. An excellent account of the work done by John Snow (often considered the “father” of epidemiology) and Henry Whitehead.  This book explains the challenges and the investigation but also points out how it contributed to the development of large cities and urban areas.
  • Jones, James H. Bad Blood, The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments. 1993 The Free Press, New York.  A factual account of the US Public Health Service study that denied proper syphilis treatment to 299 black and led to bioethics and the present policies and laws governing and human experimentation in the US.
  • Pendergast, Mark.  Inside the Outbreaks: The Elite Medical Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence Service. 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York. The history of CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) described through a series of outbreak investigations.  The expansion of public health from communicable diseases to environmental and social issues such as violence is clearly reflected in this book. 
  • Preston, Richard. Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus. 1994. Random House, New York. A account of the events surrounding appearance of Ebola virus in a research colony of monkeys in Reston, Virginia.  Includes graphic descriptions of the signs and symptoms of Ebola infection in humans.
  • Rouche, Bertron.  Eleven Blue Men and Other Tales of Medical Detection. 1965, Berkley Medallion, New York. Though somewhat dated, this collection of New Yorker articles about investigations carried out by New York City health officials during the early-mid 1900’s served to introduce many people to public health and epidemiology

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Online Games for Students
  • CDC Solve the Outbreak App
    App available for free download allows tablet users to solve different outbreak scenarios. Desktop users can play Solve the Outbreak online.
  • CDC Health IQ App
    Smartphone app gives users opportunity to determine if they know more health trivia than a public health nerd.  Available in both English and Spanish.
  • CDC Body and Mind (BAM!)
    Interactive science and health education activities targeted at 9- to 13-year-old students.
  • Outbreak at Watersedgeexternal icon
    An interactive game designed to introduce young people to the work of public health through solving an outbreak in the small town of Watersedge.
  • MedMyst: Medical Mysteries on the Webexternal icon
    Interactive learning resource on microbiology and the scientific method using infectious disease epidemiology, from Rice University Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning.
  • Disease Detectivesexternal icon
    Interactive activities about infectious diseases, developed by Science Museum of Minnesota with support from an NIH Science Education Partnership Award.
  • Science Mysteryexternal icon
    A collection of online mysteries dealing with a variety of topics including epidemiology, human health and ecology.  Each of the nine mysteries is accompanied by a set of teacher notes.

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Online Lectures

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Publications on Teaching Epidemiology and Public Health Science