Sunday, January 19, 2014

Flu Vaccine Project

With the flu plague going on right now in Texas, I felt like we should bump up our immunology unit a bit.  So many of my students have requested to learn about how their immune system works, why they should get a flu vaccine, and why its so much worse this year (is it?).  So here is the two part plan to teach immunology via the flu...

(1)  Visualizing the Flu 
  • In groups, find a current news article discussing the flu.  Share out with the class your groups opinion of the article. Is there media bias?  Does it contain scientific facts to support claims?  Does it provide useful information?
  • Find an article about the flu outside of the U.S.  (Google custom search by finding the internet country codes and using "site: Country Code, Flu Vaccine)  Share out with class - what is going on everywhere else?  How do we compare?  We hope to tie this in with our Skype in the Classroom Discussion.
  • Develop a visual of how the flu enters the body and show the how the body fights and tries to protect you.  Show the difference between specific and non-specific body defenses and demonstrate how getting a flu vaccine changes things.  Students can use any digital media they choose to create their visual (Explain Everything, ThingLink, iMovie, etc).
  • The best ones can be published in our iTunes U course to educate others on how vaccines work.
Here are a couple of examples of products using ThingLink:  

(2) Design Lab: As a group, design a lab investigation that will help others make wiser decisions regarding their health.  Nutrient agar plates will be supplied.

  • Team planning to figure out what kind of experiment they want to run.
  • Group meetings with me so I can verify and approve their lab plan and review safety guidelines.  Students should explain what they want to do and how they plan to run their investigation.  The purpose of the meeting is for me to know what they are doing, approve it, and help them troubleshoot prior to setting up.
  • They will be required to cite a recent scientific journal or article that supports their claim and/or laboratory results.
  • Create a lab report in the form of a Public Service Announcement.  It should include all necessary components of a standard lab report - hypothesis, procedures, data, analysis [using the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning method], sources of error, and recommendations.  The lab should be audio, not text, using photographs and data using Explain EverythingVoiceThread, etc
  • Here is the rubric we are working on--feel free to give us any suggestions :)
  • Again, the best work can be published in our iTunes U course to teach others around the world. 
Here is one example of a final product that used Explain Everything and iMovie.

Students learned how their immune system works, the difference in specific and non-specific defenses, antibody-antigen interactions, the different types of vaccines, aseptic lab technique, and safety standards for microbiology experiments - all without direct teach.  We had several formative assessments along the way just to make sure they were getting the big concepts and understanding everything. 


  1. I really like this and might try it in my classroom too. I like how there are a lot of options for them to choose from, but how do you grade it when they aren't all the same project? Post examples of what your students create when you can! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love the that this project is both timely and relevant to the lives of your learners.