Disease Hits Home

Authors: Rachel Hughes & Kirstin A. Bittel

Time: 2 days
Preparation Time:  
Materials: medical analysis cards
internet and library access

Previously students have been introduced to a disease via a case study of the disease’s symptoms. Unable to use their typical ‘research’ approach students were asked to discern what might be causing these symptoms by asking some key questions of the teacher. In this lesson students are provided with the name of the disease, and using library and internet facilities, are asked to explore and explain the route of transmission of this disease in their specific case study. Familiar diseases are then categorized into these groups.

Students will be able to:

i. Derive a possible method of transmission and present in a flow chart.
ii. Differentiate between different origins of disease and provide an example within a chart.
iii. Define within a classroom discussion that disease is a change in state where homeostasis is not in balance.

National Science Education Standard:
Content Standard A – Science as Inquiry
Formulate and Revise Scientific Explanations and Models Using Logic and Evidence
Student inquiries should culminate in formulating an explanation or model. Models should be physical, conceptual, and mathematical. In the process of answering the questions, the students should engage in discussions and arguments that result in the revision of their explanations. These discussions should be based on scientific knowledge, the use of logic, and evidence from their investigations.




1. Students should recap their case studies from the previous lesson. Present the students with the cards which detail the medic’s analysis. How different is their description from the reality? What was confusing?

2. Now provide students with the name of the disease and the library facilities & internet to research the disease.

3. Focus the students on describing the route of transmission in a visual mode.

4. Once they have a general version of transmission of the disease based upon their research they should come up with suggestions as to how their particular case study individual might have developed this disease. In addition, students should also describe how the case study’s immediate family who live in the same home might be affected by the disease.

5. Share (drawing upon the teacher background) with the students the medical histories of some of these diseases. Many of the diseases have, until quite recently, not been fully understood. Can they think of any diseases that are not understood today? Why is it important to understand the nature of a disease? (to understand transmission; impact of disease; and ways to prevent, treat and control the disease)

6. Have students identify the different methods of transmission or initiation of disease (Genetic, Developmental, [Environmental Factor] Infectious [person-person], Infectious [vector]).

7. Draw up a chart for the class with the different groupings at the top. Elicit from students other diseases and place them into the chart.

8. Ask students what do all these diseases have in common? What does disease do to you? How would they define disease? From their definitions of disease it should be fairly straightforward to sum disease up as a state of the body where the homeostasis has been shifted off balance. Review the definition of homeostasis.

Embedded Assessment

1. Assess students’ critical thinking skills through their visual depiction of transmission of a specific disease in a flow chart.

2. Assess students’ ability to differentiate and articulate between different origins of disease and provide an example within a disease chart.

3. During a classroom discussion can students define that disease is a change in state where homeostasis is not in balance?

Embedded Assessment


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
  Page Content: Rachel Hughes
Web Master: Travis Biazo