Pathogens and Antibodies Lesson Plan: Immune System Defender Game

Grade Levels: 6-8

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 6 through 8, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the function of the human immune system. Students will also use human and virtual simulations to replicate the role of pathogens and antibodies.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Understand the function of the human immune system
  2. Use human and virtual simulations to replicate the role of pathogens and antibodies
  3. Discuss how new understandings might impact their gameplay strategies


  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Computers for students to use during game play


immune system; pathogens; skin; mucus; white blood cells; antibody; vaccine; HIV; autoimmunity


Familiarize yourself with both the BrainPOP resources and Immune System Defender game. The game allows students to see what happens when a breach in skin occurs: the objective is to get rid of bacteria that have gathered in the wound. Students practice defeating a bacterial infection using a range of different immune cells. They have two missions to complete. In the first, they must command a team of white blood cells called granulocytes to fight against bacteria invading the blood system through a finger wound. In the second mission, they must command an army of macrophages and dendritic cells to fight the invading bacteria. You can find more information and resources for this game on the website.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Introduce the Immune System Defender game to students. Read the Mission Briefing together. Then allow students to explore the game in partners for about ten minutes.
  2. Facilitate a whole class discussion around the game. Talk about how quickly the bacteria overtook the immune system in the game, and find out what students know about how the immune system works. Use the text about the immune system in the game's Information Terminal to guide your discussion.
  3. Play the Immune System Movie for the class. You may want to turn on closed captioning and pause periodically during the movie to check for student understanding.
  4. Conduct a pathogen and antibody simulation with the class. Assign students to play various roles in the immune system to explore what happens when an antigen enters the body. An example of this simulation can be found here beginning on page 17.
  5. Talk with students about the simulation and the movie. How will their new understandings affect the way they play the Immune System Defender Game? Are there any new strategies they'd like to try?
  6. Allow students to play the game independently for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Use the Quiz to assess student learning. You might also want students to reflect in writing on what they learned from playing the game.

Extension Activity:

Have students explore the Microbes Game, which challenges players to isolate a single microorganism that is causing a plague.

Additional lesson and activities from developer of both the Microbes and Immune System Defender games can be found on the Generation Cures website.

Be sure to also check out the other Health Games featured in GameUp.

BrainPOP Movies:

Immune System
Bacteria (Activity Page Answer Key)