We started one of my favorite projects today, the capstone project for Unit 3, called “Outbreak!” During the project students are asked to diagnose a deadly disease that is spreading throughout their town and to find a cure.
We started today with a PowerPoint introducing the project (posted below). It began with a video from Bill Gates explaining why he worries about virus outbreaks. Then we learned about how viruses are tiny cell invaders, injecting their DNA or RNA and hijacking your cells. Next I told them the story of polio, a deadly virus that was effectively cured in 1953 by Jonas Salk. He invented a way to “freeze” the virus and give it to patients, thereby teaching their immune system to recognize the virus without subjecting the body to its living form.
Then we introduced the premise of this week’s project:
“The year is 2034. A deadly disease has struck the town of Marshfield along with the majority of Massachusetts. As of now, the disease has only been found in 1-2% of the population, but it is spreading quickly. By the end of the week, it is expected to spread to the cities of Boston, Providence, and perhaps even New York. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been called in to try to slow the spread of the disease and to find a cure.
If made quickly, a vaccine could keep fatalities in the hundreds or thousands. Without one, the death toll could reach several million. Your job during this project is to identify the disease, slow its spread, and eventually find a cure. Your final lab report will include instructions on how to make the vaccine, and the report should be shared with the CDC and local governments. The clock is ticking.”
Students this week will be asked to (1) control the outbreak, (2) test infected patients, (3) examine their DNA, (4) analyze the disease’s reproduction, and (5) produce a vaccine. Each of these tasks will be completed on subsequent days. At the end of today’s class, students wrote down their recommendations for controlling the outbreak. These included closing school (no surprise there!), National Guard food deliveries, and even quarantining infected patients.
December 11 – Outbreak! Notes (pg316).pptx