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Why do laboratory testing?

Lesson Plan
CDC NERD antibodies in blood graphic.  Microscope and vial.

In module 6, students learn how laboratory testing data are used to track the spread of disease. By simulating antigen laboratory tests, students make recommendations for a group of exposed students. Students calculate incidence at a local university and recommend ways the university can help reduce disease spread. Students also learn what it takes to pursue a public health career as a laboratory scientist.

Educational Video for Students

This video introduces students to the concepts they will be exploring in CDC NERD Academy Module 6: Why do laboratory testing? This video explains the basics of diagnostic laboratory testing and how it is used. Students learn about different types of laboratory tests that experts use to identify infectious diseases, what it means to have a positive result, and how public health experts use laboratory test results to track the spread of disease. Students learn about incidence and how different tests can show different public health information. After this video, students will be able to answer the question, “Why do laboratory testing?” and they will be ready to participate in a hands-on simulated diagnostic testing activity and group discussion.

Activity Demonstration for Teachers

This instructional video guides educators through the activities of Module 6: Why do laboratory testing? The video provides a brief explanation of the concepts students will learn in this Module, including how laboratory test results can be used to calculate incidence and make public health decisions. It also shows educators how to organize their classroom, group students, and prepare testing stations (including equipment, antigen test strips, and sample cups or test tubes with dye-colored water) for student participation in the simulated laboratory testing activity. This video explains how to assist students with completing the laboratory testing activity and provides suggested timing for the activity, guidance for class discussion, and tips for success.

Public Health Career Spotlight: Laboratory Scientist

A laboratory scientist uses laboratory equipment to analyze samples and substances. They can help collect and safely ship samples, perform laboratory testing, and interpret testing results. Laboratory scientists might also help develop and test new types of diagnostic and screening tests, often leading to new technology and more rapid and accurate results. They are committed to maintaining a safe and effective work environment and to generating accurate results in a timely fashion.

woman laboratory scientist wearing googles, overcoat, and holding a vial.

Download this poster and display in the classroom for reference and discussion during student activities.

DOWNLOADABLE Poster pdf icon[375 KB, 1 Page, 508]

See the collection of public health career spotlights from all modules in this curriculum.

To learn more about public health STEM careers, visit See Yourself in a Public Health Career (