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.
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
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
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
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
health issue, what community they are targeting, and
why they think it is important for that community.
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.
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.
At the end of day 1, give students the “Get the message
out!” week 3 handout to complete at home.
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.