Student Projects

Case of the Cooties

Authors: Shawn Kessler, Brent Spirnak

Grade: 7th

Subjects: Biology, History, Multimedia, Science

Student at
Students at
Students at
Students dressed as doctors
Girl wearing surgical mask
Arm with open sores -yuck!

How do we identify the different pathogens that cause disease?

How can we investigate where certain diseases originated and how they spread?

What can we do to stop them!

In groups, student investigate a particular disease or pathogen to understand both the biological and historical affects. Students also create a game or flash animation based on their particular disease.

Diseases come in many forms and can infect anyone at any time. Even today with all our advances in medicine, diseases still exist!  Is that “sick” feeling you have just a simple cold or something worse?  What is that rash developing on my chest?  During the Age of Exploration we did not have a very good understanding of medicine and these questions were not easily answered. For this project we will examine some of the most deadly diseases during this time period and throughout history, how they spread and their effect on individuals, populations and entire civilizations.

Reflection from Brent Spirnak (Multimedia teacher) “This project was as much of a challenge for me as it was for the students. I usually create projects based on applications or programs that I am familiar with so I can 1) teach the program effectively to the students 2) help them troubleshoot when creating the project. I do not have much background in Adobe Flash so it was challenging to troubleshoot the students’ work because I was learning it along with them. I try to as much as I can get the students out of the mindset that the teacher is the “beacon of knowledge” who holds every answer. Each day we were working on the projects, I exemplified this more and more. A problem arose and I did not know the solution off the top of my head so we sat down and had to research it. We searched for answers in Flash forums or troubleshooting websites. There were often times when we did not find an answer. This frustrated students at times but I think they learned that their teacher is not the smartest one in the class. Other students stepped up and helped them out with their projects and this is the most ideal learning environment during a long term project. Students helping students helping teachers achieve high level projects that are displayed and exhibited for people to see.”

Artist:  Responsible for the overall aesthetics of the project.  This will include (but not limited to) creating a visual representation of the disease, make-up, exhibit design and incorporating or dictating how information will be used to create visual aids.

Explorer:  Responsible for explaining why people explored new areas and what happened when two civilizations came in contact with each other.  Was this disease spread on purpose or was it accidental?  This will include (but not limited to) an explanation of how the disease is transmitted and creating a map that shows when and where the disease has occurred from the 1300s to today.

Doctor:  Responsible for the pathogenic effect on the entire body, how to respond to the symptoms, what treatments were available at the time, how you became a doctor during that time period, and what instruments were used.

Patient:  Responsible for the describing the cause of the disease (how did you come in contact with this disease?, what did you think was the reason for getting this disease?), explaining the symptoms, and having the appropriate make-up applied to show how infected people look when they have the disease.

Students will show:

  • Detailed understanding of assigned disease
  • The interaction of the disease and the human body
  • The impact of the disease on a civilization
  • Ability to communicate complex scientific terms and concepts
  • Time management
  • Bringing together individual components to create a group project
  • Flash animation or game based on disease
  • Pathology
  • Immunology
  • Introduction to Adobe Flash