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Major Project: Public Health Visitor

By: Rachel Hughes



Time: 2 class periods
Preparation Time: Arrange visitors in advance
Cut clippings
Photocopy handouts
Materials:

Newspaper clippings
Get the message out! Week 3 handout
Public Health Reflection I Homework (week 5)
Public Health Reflection I In-class worksheet (week 5)
Public Health Reflection II Homework (week 7)
Public Health Reflection II In-class worksheet (week 7)
Get the message out! Weeks 8&9 handout (week 8&9)

Abstract
A central feature of each unit is the major project. In the Diseases and Epidemics unit the major project is centered on the deliverance of a public health message to the students’ local community. Within every community there are many professionals who work within the public health arena. This lesson is an opportunity for students to make a connection with a public health worker, to ask questions of the public health worker and to identify current issues in public health, specifically those that affect their community. The public health worker connection is particularly important as he/she may be able to offer support later in the semester as students work on their public health message. This lesson should occur approximately 3 weeks into the unit. During the previous few weeks students have been learning about diseases and epidemics and should have an introductory background.

Objectives
Students should be able to:

1. Identify six current local public health issues as a class and each group should give a brief two-minute overview of one local issue.
2. Develop and ask pertinent questions of a professional individual with a career related to public health.


National Science Education Standard:
Content Standard F - Science in Personal and Social Perspective
PERSONAL AND COMMUNITY HEALTH
The severity of disease symptoms is dependent on many factors, such as human resistance and the virulence of the disease-producing organism. Many diseases can be prevented, controlled, or cured. Some diseases, such as cancer, result from specific body dysfunctions and cannot be transmitted.

Personal choice concerning fitness and health involves multiple factors. Personal goals, peer and social pressures, ethnic and religious beliefs, and understanding of biological consequences can all influence decisions about health practices.

Teacher Background
Within most communities there are individuals involved in various public health issues. The following is a list of possible starting points to finding an individual or individuals to work with your class:

County Public Health Department (within the public health department consider the environmental health section which typically deals with such issues as West Nile Virus)
Community Health Centers
Doctors, Nurses, Physician Assistants
University Colleges of Public Health

Partnering with outside community members takes time and patience on the part of all collaborators. Make sure you make arrangements well in advance of the meeting date; several weeks is more reasonable and several months is more than an adequate amount of time to find someone if your first choice does not work out. Early on establish the best way to communicate with the individual, i.e., is he/she an e-mail person? Or is it best to contact them via phone? How will they communicate with you? At school? At home? Talk to the potential public health visitor about what your goals for your students are. Share with them how their presence in your classroom plays a role in the larger project. Remember that although some people may be very comfortable in front of a class of teenagers, for many people this may be the first time they have been in a high school class since they themselves were in high school; do not expect they know how to teach. That, of course, will continue to be your role while they are in the classroom.

Resources
Local and national newspapers for clipped Public Health related articles.
http://www.publichealthnews.com/

 

 

Activity
Prior to class:
Beginning with the first class this term, give students the definition of Public Health: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_health) and ask that they bring in materials that they find from local sources that deal with public health issues. You will also provide some current examples. Explain to students that these will be important to the major project this semester. These issues can be noted during class and posted to a notice board. Keeping current newspapers in the classroom can help facilitate this.

Day 1:
1. Pose students the following scenario question: A new disease is spreading across the country, but no one is saying anything about it in an official capacity. Researchers have identified prevention methods and there is some success with treatment. Who is responsible for monitoring the progression of the disease and who is responsible for sharing the possible treatment and prevention methods with the public? Students may mention the Center for Disease Control, doctors, and they may even mention the local public health department.

2. Ask students what ways messages about immediate health issues are shared. Within a variety of answers there should be some allusion to public health messages.

3. Explain to the students that the major project for this unit will consist of the development and sharing of a public health message for their community. Explain that in each class (Language Arts and Social Studies as well) they will work with a group to produce a product to share with the community. In a scientific scenario, the public service message must specifically target improving the public’s understanding of the biology behind a public health issue. Inform the students that over the next few weeks they will learn about biology that concerns many public health issues and will also independently investigate the biology of a public health issue that interests them.

4. Explain that they will be meeting with an expert in the area of public health who will share a little about current local public health issues and answer their questions. Tell them that before the visitor arrives the following day, they need to be somewhat current and up to date on these topics. They will spend today preparing some questions and becoming more familiar with some of the topics.

5. Pick out some of the newspaper clippings that have been brought in and specifically those you think the visitor may address when he/she visits. Contacting them beforehand to see what they think are important topics will take some of the guesswork out of this. You should organize the students into groups and give each group a certain topic to consider in depth.

6. Working in groups, have students look over the clippings. What questions do they have about an issue? They should give a 2 minute overview of the issue to the class and develop 3 questions that they have about the science behind this issue.

You may need to guide them in the type of questions they might ask to learn more about the biological context. Remind them to consider the community implications of a health issue. How fast is a disease spreading, how is it spreading? What preventive measures are there for an illness? Etc. Collect the questions when they are done.

7. From the newspaper clippings what do the students identify as a major local public health issue? What other issues do they see as important in the communities in which they live?

8. Pass out the “Get the message out!” week 3 handout and have the students read it aloud. They are to complete the sheet for homework, and will briefly discuss their ideas for what they think is an important public health issue, what community they are targeting, and why they think it is important for that community.

Day 2:
9. You may want to introduce the visitor as students enter the room, but before questions begin and the speaker presents whatever they may have prepared, take 10 minutes to discuss what issues students chose for their homework. This will give students ideas of what their classmates are thinking of as current issues for them, as well as act as a springboard for the speaker to feel more connected with the students.

10. Let the students know that while they may change their topic at this point, this will be their first opportunity to learn not just about public health issues, but also about their particular interest. While the speaker may not be able to answer all their questions, they may be able to point students in the right direction to get information.

11. The questions generated from the previous day will then be passed back and the visitor will hopefully give a small presentation on local health issues. Students should be prepared, ready to ask questions and also take notes.

12. At the end of the presentation, take 5 minutes for students to write a reflection on what they have learned about their public health issue or about public health in general on the back of their “Get the message out” week 3 handout. Collect these handouts, and make sure to have students place them in a specific Final Project location when they are handed back.

Connections

Reflection I (week 5): At the end of “Launching a Defense” give students the Public Health Reflection I Homework sheet and instruct them to find one book and one article about the public health issue they are interested in. This homework will be due the day after finishing “I am a pathogen”. Students will come in and before beginning “Waterborne Diseases” will be paired with one other student and each will have to fill out the Public Heath Reflection I in-class exercise during the first 10 minutes of class. You will then collect the homework and the in-class exercise. This exercise is to help students with research skills, remind them of the final project, share ideas, and develop an idea of what to consider when informing the community about public health issues.

Reflection II (week 7): At the end of “Catch a Bug” give students the Public Health Reflection II Homework sheet and instruct them to find one website and one person that are connected to the public health issue they are interested in. This homework will be due the day after finishing “Routes of Entry”. Students will come in and before beginning “Describe the perfect pathogen” will be paired with one other student and each will have to fill out the Public Heath Reflection II in-class exercise during the first 10 minutes of class. You will then collect the homework and the in-class exercise. This exercise is to help students with research skills, remind them of the final project, share ideas, and develop an idea of what to consider when informing the community about public health issues.

Reflection III (weeks 8&9): At the end of “Exploring Vaccines” organize the students into the groups they will be working in for the project and let them know the topic they will be covering. There is flexibility here for students to be in 1-4 person groups, depending on interest. Students will come in and before beginning “Deadly Disease Among Us” will meet in their group to pool resources and get a more detailed description (“Get the message out!” weeks 8&9 handout) of what they might include in a public health poster. They will be expected to identify the main job of each group member and create a plan/timeline to get any research that needs to be done, and pass that information back to the teacher. This should be a 20+ minute meeting of groups.

Homework
At the end of day 1, give students the “Get the message out!” week 3 handout to complete at home.

Embedded Assessment

From both the class discussion and the groups’ brief 2-minute overview, the students’ initial grasp of the public health field related to local issues can be assessed. The questions students ask will also inform you of their grasp of the material, level of interest and of their ability to formulate questions. As an engage lesson, much of the embedded assessment in this lesson is pre-assessment. The explore section of this lesson will be done over the remaining weeks of the class. Below, in connections, are when the remaining parts of this lesson will be covered. Reminders will also be placed in the other lessons in a “Final Project” section.

 

 


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


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

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Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694


1996-2007, The University of Arizona
Last update: November 10, 2009
  Page Content: Rachel Hughes
Web Master: Travis Biazo