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Index of Educational Activities Organized by Topic

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In collaboration with K-12 STEM teachers and CDC subject matter experts (SME), the CDC Science Ambassador Fellowship program has designed a series of various educational activities, collectively entitled: Teaching Tomorrow’s Disease Detectives: Science skills for the problem-based world that will help your students learn and practice skills, like disease detectives, that they can also apply to their daily life.

Activities address five overarching themes in public health, including an introduction to epidemiology, public health surveillance, investigating an outbreak, preparedness and response, and careers and roles in public health. Activities also focus on the development of five major skill sets, including scientific design, identifying trends, decision-making, implementing action plans, and collaborative performance.

Activities were designed for teachers to use in the classroom. They have been aligned with Next Generation Science Standardsexternal icon* and CDC’s Epidemiology and Public Health Science: Core Competencies for High School Studentspdf icon[PDF – 33 pages]. We encourage teachers to tailor the activities to meet the needs of their students.

Public Health Topic Area
(Click on a topic to access individual activities.)
Activities
Chronic Disease – Nutrition, Physical Activity, Obesity 2
Environmental Health 2
Infectious Disease – Foodborne 3
Infectious Disease – Other 3
Infectious Disease – Respiratory 4
Infectious Disease – Waterborne 5
Infectious Disease – Zoonotic 5
Other  6

Chronic Disease – Nutrition, Physical Activity, Obesity

Drink Up: Lesson in Survey Methodology pdf icon[PDF -23 pages]

Certain data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) are used to teach about the connection between soda and sports drink consumption among teens and teen health. Students will collect and analyze local peer data and learn health implications of their beverage choices while improving skills in critical thinking and data use to justify decision making. Students will practice real-life public health surveillance techniques, develop surveys, collect and compare data, and draw evidence-based conclusions. Throughout the lesson, students will learn about limitations and biases of different public health surveillance methods. Students will be encouraged to communicate their knowledge and create intervention strategies to positively influence beverage choices among their peers. This lesson is intended for students in grades 6–12.

Public health theme: Public Health Surveillance
Problem-based skill: Identifying Trends

Food for Thought: Making Healthy Food and Physical Activity Choices pdf icon[PDF – 20 pages]

Making healthy choices about food and physical activity are not always just a personal choice. Society often plays a role. In this lesson, student will explore how individual choices about healthy eating and physical activity can be influenced by societal factors such as access, affordability, and availability of healthy foods and access to safe places to be active. Then, using a formal debate format, students will create and defend a viewpoint regarding the influence of society on individual choices that reflects scientific knowledge and student-generated evidence. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to actively and accurately engage in conversations about a priority public health concern of the 21st century.

Public health theme: Investigating an Outbreak
Problem-based skill: Decision-making

Spatial Analysis of Obesity: GIS and descriptive epidemiology pdf icon[PDF – 41 pages]

Students use the geographic inquiry process to explore potential relationships among obesity, income level, and physical inactivity in the state of Georgia. Students use ArcGIS, a geographic information system (GIS), to layer data and analyze data to observe potential patterns. Students explore the role of epidemiologists from asking questions and testing hypotheses to identifying causes of health and disease. Then, based on the information collected, students design public health promotion strategies.

Public health theme: Public Health Surveillance
Problem-based skill: Identifying Trends

Environmental Health

Lurking Radon and Lung Cancer pdf icon[PDF – 55 pages]

In this lesson plan, students will use public health surveillance data to investigate radon levels and lung cancer rates at the national level and in their local counties. Students will identify geographic patterns in data, graph radon levels and lung cancers rates, and then calculate lung cancer rates associated with high levels of radon. Students will learn about EPA recommendations for radon, how to test for radon, and have in-depth discussions about the social and political implications to control and prevent future exposure, specifically in schools and day care centers.

Public health theme: Public Health Surveillance
Problem-based skill: Identifying Trends

Lung Cancer at Peachstate Community Center pdf icon[PDF – 44 pages]

Students use epidemiology to investigate a potential lung cancer cluster. Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health conditions among populations and the application of that study to control health problems. Students apply descriptive epidemiology to describe the occurrence by person, place, time, and exposure to risk factors. Using data collected through in-person interviews of lung cancer patients, students then apply analytic epidemiology to evaluate the cluster using statistical approaches. They use evidence to determine if there was an increase in cases compared to what was expected and how to establish a causal link between exposure and disease (i.e., that the exposure was the cause of the disease). Students will discover the importance of community relationships in making decisions and apply it by creating a multifaceted public service announcement.

Public health theme: Introduction to Epidemiology
Problem-based skill: Scientific Design

Infectious Disease – Foodborne

I Have a Gut Feeling…E. coli O157:H7 Case Study pdf icon[PDF – 29 pages] | PowerPoint ppt icon[PPT – 212 KB]

Students use graphing and modeling skills to analyze surveillance data from an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. Through the use of a case study, students identify how health-related phenomena can be characterized by person, place and time. To aid in the formulation of evidence-based hypotheses about the possible cause of disease, students learn how to identify priority health-related phenomena, collect reliable public health data through surveillance systems, and use appropriate models (e.g., charts, figures, graphs, or maps).

Public health theme: Public Health Surveillance
Problem-based skill: Identifying Trends

Infectious Disease – Other

RAGE Outbreak: Making Grueling Public Health Decisions pdf icon[PDF – 41 pages]

This lesson plan is based on a fictional outbreak scenario. It is designed to address choices made by different stakeholders in the context of public health ethics. The introductory Four Corners questions activity and presentation provides students with the background knowledge necessary to successfully complete the jigsaw activity. The activity has students examine and analyze scientific literature to develop a statement on the basis of their stakeholder’s viewpoint. During this process, students develop research skills, debate strategies, and practice their public speaking skills. By evaluating different stakeholder’s statements, each student will complete a summative writing assessment that outlines a strategy for vaccination, in response to the outbreak.

Public health theme: Careers and Roles in Public Health
Problem-based skills: Collaborative Performance

Spreading Sickness in Middle School pdf icon[PDF – 50 pages]

Pathogens such as viruses and bacteria can cause diseases, many of which are vaccine-preventable. Many infectious diseases are spread from person to person. In this lesson plan, students will learn how an increase in the number of persons vaccinated for a certain disease reduces the potential for that disease to spread. Students will participate in a modeling activity to identify transmission patterns with and without vaccination. Then, students gather information and data to conduct a cost-analysis on being sick versus being vaccinated. Students will present their cost-analysis using an infographic, a 21st century communication tool, to frame a public health message.

Public health theme: Introduction to Epidemiology
Problem-based skill: Scientific Design

What’s in the Syringe? A Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Investigation pdf icon[PDF – 48 pages]

Students will investigate a multistate fungal meningitis outbreak and explore some of the roles of a
Public health outbreak response team. A jigsaw activity is used to help students organize findings of the investigation, according to essential elements of information (EEI). The jigsaw technique is a teaching method in which groups work on small problems that the class collates into a final outcome. EEI is situational information about people, systems, and services that is critical for an effective outbreak response. Students use findings to create a case definition. Then, students develop a communication tool to alert and inform the public about the outbreak. This lesson is intended for high school students in grades 9–12.

Public health theme: Careers and Roles in Public Health
Problem-based skills: Collaborative Performance

Infectious Disease – Respiratory

No Cure for the Summertime Blues: Enterovirus D68 Case Study pdf icon[PDF – 39 pages] | Excel excel icon[XLS – 18 KB]

In this case study, students will analyze data and information about the outbreak as if it were happening in real time. They will use this information to make decisions about how to effectively monitor and respond to an enterovirus D-69 (EV-D68) outbreak. Students will classify increases in numbers of persons with EV-D68 as a cluster, outbreak, epidemic, or pandemic to help justify planning decisions for conducting a field investigation. Students will apply a case definition to collect data needed to characterize an outbreak by using correct graphs and tables. Oral and written communication skills will be used to communicate findings to the public. Note: Excel data for the case study is available.

Public health theme: Investigating an Outbreak
Problem-based skill: Decision-making

Keep Calm and Get Vaccinated pdf icon[PDF – 37 pages]

Students will learn about the influenza virus, vaccine, and possible effects of an influenza pandemic. Through an interactive PowerPoint and Webquest, students will learn how the influenza virus can change, spread, and, possibly result in a pandemic. They will also learn about influenza surveillance. Students will collect data about influenza transmission and analyze data from two influenza pandemics. In a lesson extension, students will create a public service announcement for the seasonal influenza vaccine
Public health theme: Introduction to Epidemiology
Problem-based skill: Scientific Design

Have You “Herd”? Modeling Influenza’s Spread pdf icon[PDF – 46 pages]

Students use mathematical modeling and perform a laboratory test simulation to explore infectious disease. Through the use of various models, students learn how to predict the infectious disease transmission and spread in populations. Then, students evaluate the effectiveness of countermeasures implemented to prevent pandemics, such as vaccination campaigns.

Public health theme: Preparedness and Response
Problem-based skill: Implementing Action Plans

Seasonal Flu Costs How Much?! pdf icon[PDF – 47 pages]

Seasonal influenza (flu) can be a serious disease that leads to hospitalization and occasionally death. Every flu season is different because the types and subtypes of influenza viruses can change each year. CDC recommends that everyone aged 6 months and older should get a seasonal flu vaccination every year. This lesson examines the economic effects associated with seasonal flu and vaccination decisions. Students will use a systematic, public health approach to learn about influenza and prevention effectiveness, also called public health economics. By using data and scientific estimates of the direct and indirect cost of the flu, students refine mathematical skills and apply them to a real-world scenario. Analyzing scientific evidence through the eyes of students provides them with the insight as to how social and economic factors can often substantially influence decision making and oftentimes outweigh scientific evidence. Developing a tailored vaccination program for their school helps students think strategically about how to construct a winning argument.

Public health theme: Preparedness and Response
Problem-based skill: Implementing Action Plans

Infectious Disease – Waterborne

Brain-eating Ameba pdf icon[PDF – 31 pages]

This lesson plan demonstrates how microorganisms normally found in environments, such as the bottom of warm freshwater ponds and lakes can cause illness when they enter the human body. Students engaged in this lesson plan will learn about Naegleria fowleri (the scientific name of the brain-eating ameba), where it lives, how it can cause infection, and how persons can protect themselves from this infection. Students will also have the opportunity to identify other organisms living in local freshwater reservoirs, such as ponds and lakes. At the end of the lesson, students should have an enhanced understanding of the environment’s role in disease transmission and ways to reduce the risk for contracting waterborne infections. This material is suitable for use in high school biology or environmental science classes and can be included as part of lessons on aquatic ecosystems.

Public health theme: Introduction to Epidemiology
Problem-based skill: Scientific Design

Masters of Disaster pdf icon[PDF – 35 pages]

Students learn how to coordinate a basic response to a public health disaster by exploring of the cholera outbreak in Haiti after an earthquake. Students use patterns in public health surveillance data to characterize a public health emergency. Then, students tailor strategies inconsideration of social, economic, ethical, environmental, cultural, and political needs to develop an action plan.

Public health theme: Preparedness and Response
Problem-based skill: Implementing Action Plans

Infectious Disease – Zoonotic

Don’t Let Salmonella Ruffle Your Feathers Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella in the United States pdf icon[PDF – 70 pages]

This lesson plan uses information from an epidemiologic outbreak to teach concepts concerning zoonotic disease. Students gain skills in epidemiologic thinking, identifying cause and effect associations related to health and disease, data analysis, and how to use data to justify decision making. Students develop a working definition for zoonotic disease. Then, students evaluate a case study on the basis of real events in a 2014 outbreak of human Salmonella infections linked to live poultry in the United States. They use data to create a geographic spot map to identify epidemiologic patterns, identify strategies to collect data using questionnaires, and design prevention materials using CDC’s One Health methodologies as a guide. This case study is intended for middle school students in grades 6–12.

Public health theme: Investigating an Outbreak
Problem-based skill: Decision-making

Hedging Your Bets: One Health investigation of Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak among nontraditional pets pdf icon[PDF – 80 pages]

Students will participate in a case control study to explore concepts of disease transmission, design an epidemic curve, and calculate frequency and odds ratios. Students will develop an epidemiological and public health science vocabulary and will apply those terms to a modified version of an outbreak scenario. Students will demonstrate and model epidemiological methodologies to determine a cause of the Salmonella outbreak. This case control study is intended for students in grades 9–12.

Public health theme: Investigating an Outbreak
Problem-based skill: Decision-making

Something Wicked This Way Comes: The 2014 Ebola Response pdf icon[PDF – 40 pages]

The 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa is the first in history. Not only has this epidemic been unprecedented, but so has the public health response. In this lesson, students use information from the initial Ebola outbreak to justify each step of an outbreak investigation. Students then identify strategies to implement a public health response infrastructure that allows for effective management of national and international partnerships, allocation of personnel and resources, sharing of data, and the creation of a unified front against Ebola. The target grade level for this case study is an upper middle school to high school audience.

Public health theme: Investigating an Outbreak
Problem-based skill: Decision-making

Other

Making Room: The Public Health Response to Unaccompanied Minors Crossing the U.S. Borders pdf icon[PDF – 28 pages]

Students will learn about a public health response to a manmade public health problem and its implications. By law, unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. borders are retained in U.S. custody while immigration processing occurs. Students will identify the services the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (e.g., medical checks, vaccination, and shelter) provides to unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. borders. By identifying the needs of this population, students will discover the various professionals (e.g., doctors, nurses, biologists, epidemiologists, social workers, financial officers, border security personnel, engineers, law enforcement personnel, international agency staff, lawmakers, lawyers) needed for an effective public health response.

Public health theme: Preparedness and Response
Problem-based skill: Implementing Action Plans

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