The Human and Animal Connection!

By: Sara Chavarria

Time: 50 minutes
Make copies of Handout 1 for each student. (Optional: make copies of Overheads 1 and 2 for each student.) Print overhead copies and the Answer Key to Handout 1.
Materials: Overhead 1:Understanding CONCEPT MAPS
Handout 1: Domestication and Disease
Handout 1: Answer Key


This lesson will introduce the idea of a connection between human diseases and the domestication of animals. The diagram used will have been introduced in the 2nd quarter so this is re-visited but with a different focus. The mechanism of transmission of diseases between animals including humans (zoo noses) is not described in the lesson, but it should be addressed within the science classroom.

Students will infer the connection among humans, animals, and disease through the interpretation of concept maps.

Standards in Historical Thinking

  • 3E – Analyze cause-and-effect relationships and multiple causations, including the importance of the individual, the influence of ideas, and the role of chance.
  • 3J – Hypothesize the influences of the past.
  • 4A – Formulate Historical questions
  • 5A – Identify issues and problems of the past.


(Note-taking using Concept Maps)

1.Setting the stage. In order to understand the reasons why diseases occur, a quick review of where they originate may offer clues later in the quarter as students investigate diseases and possible preventative measures. Start by displaying Overhead 1. Read the text with the students and then trace how the text was used to create a concept map that more clearly displays the relationship to movement, food source and contamination of water during prehistoric nomadic times. (5-7 minutes)

2. Project overhead 2 (Domestication and Disease Concept Map).

3. Give each student a copy of Handout 1. As they read the left column of text they will answer the questions posed on the right using the concept map. (Use Overhead 2 for Questions 1-8). Make this a class project to help students follow the concept map. The point is for them to see how interrelated the relationship is among humans, animals and germs.

4. When done with questions 1-8, go over the answers with the students.

5. Now re-display Overhead 1 and have them answer Question 9.

6. On the back of the sheet continue with notes. Begin with the following statement: All of this domestication and settling down poses a new problem in regards to infectious diseases. Because of people’s close proximity to animals, many researchers and scientists believe they exposed themselves to the development of deadly infectious diseases like Smallpox, Measles, Influenza, and Tuberculosis. To make the problem worse, infectious diseases thrived in cities with high population densities, so now that cities existed so did these deadly diseases.

7. Continue with notes by defining why an infectious disease is worth noticing. Have students write this down in their notes.

Spread fast and furious from infected persons or animals to nearby healthy people, thereby attacking a whole population.   Are acute which means people either die or recover.
If people recover they may develop antibodies that build immunity against future occurrences.    

8. Transition. Now that infectious disease is defined, the class will return to the reasons why diseases occur. These are the reasons that make history interesting because it is not only the action of humans that impacts history, but also the interaction of human practices and responses with the influences of the world around them that shapes history.

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
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