Bird Flu Today Public Awareness Campaign - Teacher’s Section

Instructor Introduction

This webquest is intended for high school and undergraduate science students (1) in preparation for visiting the Koshland Science Museum (2) for extended learning after visiting the Koshland Science Museum, or (3) as a web-based, stand-alone activity. The goal is to engage students in studying emerging infectious diseases, microbial evolution, public health, vaccines, and science policy.

This webquest activity can be used in the classroom in many different ways.. Students should be divided up into groups of four, so that each student can assume the role of one of the investigative team members. This encourages cooperative learning and also gives students a chance to work as a team, just as real-world investigative teams work. Alternatively, the webquest can be completed by students individually, investigating all four roles by themselves. Either way, students should be encouraged whenever possible to communicate their findings by creating a multimedia presentation.

This webquest is designed to take approximately one week.

You can find more information about the webquest in the following sections

Background - Background information on H5N1 and suggested introductory activity
Flowchart and worksheets - Graphical flowchart of studnet activities and corresponding worksheets.
Science Education Standards - The National Science Education Standards relevant to this activity
Evaluation - Rubric for evaluating student achievement
Alternate Activities - Other activities you can do in your classroom related to this webquest.
Teacher Feedback - Section for teachers to display their students’ final presentations, exchange ideas on incorporating the webquest, and share thoughts, questions, and ideas with other teachers.



Background Information for Teachers

Influenza viruses are divided into A, B, and C groups based on their virulence, with A being the mildest and C being the most virulent. Most seasonal influenza viruses fall under the A category, but viruses are always evolving . These viruses are further classified into subgroups based on exterior proteins called hemagglutinin (H) and the neuraminidase (N). The 2007 subtypes currently circulating are both type A viruses; H1N1 and H3N2. “Influenza type A viruses undergo two kinds of changes. One is a series of mutations that occur over time and cause a gradual evolution of the virus. This is called antigenic “drift.” The other kind of change is an abrupt change in the hemagglutinin and/or the neuraminidase proteins. This is called antigenic “shift.” In this case, a new subtype of the virus suddenly emerges. Type A viruses undergo both kinds of changes; influenza type B viruses change only by the more gradual process of antigenic drift.”[4]

In 1918, as World War I was coming to an end, a flu pandemic was just beginning the United States. The pandemic was caused by a shift in the H1N1 strain of the flu virus. [6] By the end of the epidemic, over 675,000 Americans were dead. [1] In all, the pandemic killed more than 50 million people worldwide. [2] Although the origin of the disease is still under dispute, one theory indicates that it may have started in human then transferred to swine and then back again. [3] Symptoms experienced by the 1918 flu victims are quite similar to those of people who have contracted H5N1 today – including typical influenza symptoms, eye infections, pneumonia, and severe respiratory diseases, among others. [1] The 1918 pandemic was not the only flu pandemic in the last century; there were also pandemics in 1957 and 1968. Today, the flu virus continues to mutate and number of new strains have become prominent between 1977 and 2004. [6]

Today’s H5N1 virus has been transferred to humansmainly through human contact with the excretions or secretions of domesticated poultry. [1] Currently, the virus cannot be easily transmitted from person to person. Scientists fear that if H5N1 did develop ability to be transmitted between human beings, it could lead to another global pandemiceven worse than that of 1918, given today’s global society. To evolve the ability to “jump” from human to human, the virus would probably require an intermediate host to facilitate the process. For example, an H5N1 virus would have to infect a pig that is also infected with a human influenza A virus. This would allow for mixing of the genetic material of both viruses, possibly resulting in a form that could be transmitted between humans. [7]

Every year vaccines are developed to fight the currently pervading virus strains. [4] Certain target groups such as young children or the elderly are encouraged to get the vaccine annually to develop immunity tocurrent strains. There are also antiviral drugs available on the market that are used to treat and prevent influenza A viruses. [4] However, just as bacteria develop antibiotic resistance, so too can viruses develop antiviral resistance.

The purpose of this webquest is to engage students in thinking critically about how the American government should respond to a potential avian flu pandemic based on current knowledge about viruses, vaccines, microbial evolution, and public health measures. Participating students willpartake in both individual and team components of the webquest. As teams, they will use individual and group research to develop a public awareness campaign advocating their perspective.

Before beginning the webquest, students should have a solid understanding of the basic differences between viruses and bacteria, as well as their respective treatment and control measures. We recommend that you discuss the following discussion questions before starting the webquest.

1. What are the differences between viruses and bacteria?

See the KSM website, infectious diseases exhibit section on “Where are They?”

2. 2. What is the difference between an antibiotic, a vaccine, and an antiviral?

See the KSM website, infectious diseases exhibit sections on “Vaccines and Human Immunity” & “Antibiotics & Emerging Drug Resistance”

3. How many Americans die each year on average from the seasonal flu virus?

36,000 each year are killed and 226,000 are hospitalized Influenza is the seventh leading cause of death in the US, when combined with pneumonia. [5]

If you choose not to use the webquest in its entirety, but would like to focus on the science topics consider dividing the class into groups, with each group investigating one of the four researchers’ topics’. Each group can then present their findings. However, to maximize real-world connections, we strongly recommend integrating the policy project component

If time permits students can gain an overall sense of the 1918 pandemic by watching the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) DVD ”American Experience: Influenza 1918”.

[4] <link now defunct>



Flowchart and Worksheets

The following worksheets are used in this webquest.

Group worksheet

Individual worksheets

Researcher 1
Researcher 2
Researcher 3
Researcher 4

Science Standards

Science Standards

This webquest will address the following National Science Education Standards for grades 9-12.

Content Standard A – Science as Inquiry
“All students should develop understandings about scientific inquiry.”
“All students should think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations”

Students critically analyze the potential H5N1 to become a pandemic by evolving into a disease transmittable between humans and gain a thorough understanding of the scientific process.. They engage in the same process the scientific community is currently involved in.

Content Standard C – Life Science
“All students should develop an understanding of the cell, of the molecular basis of heredity, and of biological evolution.”

By looking at the relationship between microbial evolution, human immunity, and viral and human cells, students will gain an understanding of how natural selection is a driving force for the way living organisms respond to changes in the environment.

Content Standard E – Science and Technology
“All students should develop understandings about science and technology.”

As students are engaged in the epidemiological process, they gain an understanding of how science has influenced technological approaches to problems in both medicine and public health.

Content Standard F - Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
“All students should develop an understanding of personal and community health, and population growth.”
“All students should develop an understanding of science and technology in local, national, and global challenges.”

Students are engaged in making connections between the impacts of emerging infectious diseases on local and global health. They will analyze data and build their own interpretations for a plausible national response to a potential H5N1 pandemic.

Content Standard G – History and Nature of Science
“All students should develop an understanding of science as a human endeavor and of the nature of scientific knowledge.”

As students become actively involved in a simulated public health study, they make connections between the scientific study process and national policy. They do so by gaining an understanding of viruses, immunity, and public health and relating them to national policy and awareness initiatives for public protection.


Evaluation Rubric

Please download a copy of the evaluation rubric. You may choose either rubric below based on your preference.

Check Point Outline (fill in the correct dates that your teacher assigns for deadlines):

________ Determined group position and campaign idea as related to group question one
________ ***Collected data to be used in support of your argument ( individual assignments)
________ Developed detailed story board, script, and outline for your campaign (this includes: exactly what you will present in class, as well as assignments for each group member, and three components you will incorporate from the awareness tools portion of the assignment)
________ final campaign plan to class (Your campaign should take no more than 5 minutes to present)




Alternative Rubric



Alternate Activities

Alternate Activities

There are several activities that can also be used to extend the webquest:

1. NIH Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases; Activity 4: Protecting the Herd - This activity could serve as a great introduction to the webquest. By using cards to represent immunity and lack thereof, students simulate the spread of a disease through a population that has no vaccinations and then through a population that has a 50% vaccination rate. They then discuss how vaccinations impact public health.

2. Rx for Survival: Delivering the Goods - In this activity, students will be critically assessing their response to the spread of a possible flu and the impacts it has regionally and globally. This would be a great follow-up activity to the webquest to give students a practical global perspective about public health concerns in developing nations.

3. BAM! Hand Washing Experiment - Students learn about the importance of maintaining proper hygiene in order to decrease the risk of getting ill. Students will test how effectively they wash their hands by testing for the presence of microbes This activity can serve as a public health link for the webquest emphasizing the value of good hygiene.

4. Tufts Institute: Poliomyelitis: The Era of Fear - This is cross-curricular unit that looks at the poliovirus and how it impacted society before a vaccine was developed. It highlights Franklin D. Roosevelt and his own struggle with polio. Students can build a virus, chart out differences in sizes of viruses, and do several critical analysis activities addressing public health concerns related to polio, among other activities.