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Student Projects

Ebola: Going Viral

Author: Cate Challen

Grade: 11th

Subject: Biology

Presentation for Ebola: Going Viral project
Presentation for Ebola: Going Viral project
Students working on presentation for Ebola: Going Viral project
Students working on presentation
Students working on presentation
Students working on presentation
Students working on presentation

In the wake of a potential global crisis we will investigate the biology of infectious diseases to better understand how they transmit, replicate and induce an immune response in humans. Our objective is to pose solutions to the Ebola outbreak in the United States by studying other infectious diseases. We will investigate infectious diseases and the development of vaccines to show how they have changed the course of human health and populations as a whole. We will determine public perceptions about infectious diseases and identify misconceptions. Ultimately, we will develop community awareness information to manage and in future prevent an outbreak of Ebola.

As a class we will investigate Ebola – what it is, how it is transmitted and how it can cause death in some infected patients, while leaving others alive. Then, in small groups, we will investigate an infectious disease from the list below (or propose another to Dr Cate) to determine how our understanding and management of those diseases can be used to solve the Ebola epidemic.

Infectious diseases:

  • Human Papilloma Virus, Influenza, Enterovirus, SARS, Meningococcal, Polio, Pertussis, Rubella, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Measles, Pneumococcal, HIV

Potential solutions could include:

  • Infection management plans including mathematical model of spread rates
  • New vaccine designs including analysis of costs to develop and distribute
  • Treatment options and strategies for cost effective access to those
  • Public education information to allay concerns and keep everyone diligent

For our infectious disease investigation:

Products and benchmarks

“My virus and me” mini project:

  • working in small groups we will aim to understand the biology of the ebola virus as well as the socio-emotional implications of the disease. You will produce a creative piece describing one aspect of ebola to initiate our investigation.

Develop Google Form surveys for public and healthcare professionals:

  • working in small groups, students will choose an infectious disease and research it in detail. You will develop surveys for healthcare professionals (to understand how the infectious disease relates to the community) and for the general public (to identify perceptions about the infectious disease and how that compares to ebola)
  • You will receive critique on the surveys from each other and healthcare professionals

Collect data and compare to nationwide statistics (eg CDC) to identify gaps/misconceptions:

  • You will compare data collected from healthcare professionals survey with that collected from the general public to identify gaps in understanding and how that affects our understanding of ebola. You will also make comparisons to CDC data to discern differences between the local community and the nation.

Develop a product proposal:

  • you will develop a proposal for a product that addresses gaps in public understanding by presenting scientific data in an accessible way and proposes a way to address the ebola epidemic based on the disease investigated. The piece must include one source that presents an argument that your are dismissing. You must then use at least 3 credible sources to present alternative scientific data. For example, if there is a perception in the public that your infectious disease can be spread simply by standing next to an infected person, and that is false, create a way of combatting this myth using science that is accessible. Show how this can relate to ebola and how it could help provide a solution to the epidemic.
  • the proposal must present an outline, eg storyboard, of a multimedia product that could be used in an ebola campaign, eg infection management strategy, new vaccine design, new treatment options, other preventative action
  • critique on the proposal will be provided by senior multimedia students and healthcare professionals.

How can our understanding of other infectious diseases be used to find solutions to the Ebola epidemic? What is disease and how does it shape the world? Is a vaccinated population a healthy population?

What are the global impacts of healthcare management strategies and costs?

Throughout the Ebola project, students were enthusiastic to learn about Ebola. Its prevalence in the news, and the development of hysteria in the United States, created a great adult-world connection throughout this project. Students were excited to become the experts in their family about Ebola. The nuances of the Ebola virus also created a great backdrop for students to investigate and contrast a range of other infectious diseases. As students created their informational videos, it became clear that many of them were bemused by the media focus on a relatively innocuous disease as far as this country is concerned. The fact that thousands of Americans die each year from influenza and it does not make the front page of the newspaper was a shocking revelation to many students. Even more disturbing was the rate of infections from diseases that are inherently preventable, such as measles and tetanus.

This project has and will make me grow in many ways. This week I learned about how ebola not only infects your cells and causes hemhoraging but it causes your cells to attack themselves causing you to die faster. Ebola is a very interesting disease because it has been so dormant for a long time and it has finaly returned, killing thousands. Learning about these diseases really benefits you because you can have enough knowledge about these diseases to prevent against them and to help recognize what they are and what they do.

In small groups, you will develop multimedia campaigns to propose solutions to a potential ebola epidemic, including preventative action. Products will be presented at HTHNC End of Year exhibition (Infection quarantine zone – classroom could be transformed into infection control center and immunization clinic) and in an exhibition for the broader community – Vista Clinic where multimedia products would be displayed for several weeks?

Students will learn:

– biology and physiology of bacteria and viruses

– evolution of viruses and bacteria due to mutations and natural selection

– how the immune system responds to foreign invaders

– how the innate and adaptive arms of the human immune system work together

Week 1 (10/20) – Introduction to infectious diseases – how infection spreads

Week 2 (10/27) – My virus and me mini project to better understand ebola, including ethics and obligations of treating ebola in other countries.

Week 3 (11/3) – Choose infectious disease and commence research and survey development. Critique – send to HCPs for review 11/7.

Week 4 (11/10) – Conduct surveys (meeting with healthcare professionals 11/14) and collect data for analysis.

Week 5 (11/17) – Determine what the public needs to know, based on survey, and connect to ebola.  Develop proposal. Antibiotic resistance lab.

Week 6 (12/1) – Proposal critique with seniors and HCPs. Revise and commence making final products.

Week 7 (12/8) – Final Products

Week 8 (12/15) – Exhibition


Students will work with professionals at the Vista Clinic to understand infectious diseases. They will also survey the general public to identify misconceptions and address those misconceptions in short, educational media campaigns.

HPV and Ebola
Students created a comparison of Ebola to a much more prevalent, but unknown disease, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

Rabies misconceptions
Based on their survey of the public, students addressed typical misconceptions about the rabies virus.

Measles vaccination
Students presented the case for vaccinating against measles, a highly contagious disease.

Ebola: Going Viral Project Sheet