In this Virus and Bacteria lesson plan, which is adaptable for grade 6 through 12, students use BrainPOP resources to explore how viruses and bacteria are spread. Students will play an online game which simulates this process as they take on the role of a virus or bacteria that is attempting to infect a host. Students then explain ways people can prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria.
- Define viruses and bacteria and explain how they are alike and different.
- Identify how viruses and bacteria are spread.
- Explain ways people can prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria.
- Internet access for BrainPOP and Filament Games
Preparation:Familiarize yourself with the BrainPOP topic Viruses and Filament Games' online, interactive You Make Me Sick! game. The basic objective of the game is for students to create their own virus and attempt to infect a host. To do this successfully, they will need to choose a shape and type of virus or bacteria that is highly contagious and easily spread.
To watch the video trailer for the game, see alignment with state standards, or to learn more about how the game works, visit the Filament Games website.
- Show the FYI Comic and facilitate a discussion around it. How are viruses spread? Is covering your entire head an effective way to prevent the spread of viruses? What practical ways can we keep ourselves from getting sick?
- Share the Trivia page and invite students to tell the class about other interesting facts they know about viruses. You might also want to use the Q&Ato get students thinking about how viruses work.
- Show the Viruses movie with the closed captioning on. Pause at key points to clarify student understanding.
- Have students take the Quiz as a whole class activity. Show each question and have students display their answers using sign language or by holding up their fingers (1 finger for answer A, 2 fingers for answer B, etc.)
- Tell the class that they will have a chance to explore how viruses are spread by playing an interactive game online. They will play the role of a virus with the objective being to infect their host. Clarify that students should read carefully about each type/shape of bacteria and viruses and select the one they think is most contagious. You may wish to model this for students. You might also choose to differentiate game play: students with less prior knowledge can select an existing virus or bacteria, like salmonella, and more advanced students can design their own virus/bacteria. You can also scaffold student learning as needed by encouraging students to use an existing virus during the first round of game play, and then create their own during later practice opportunities.
- Give students about fifteen minutes to play the game either independently or in pairs.
- If students have individual logins through My BrainPOP, they’ll be able to take snapshots during game play to capture significant moments and reflect on their work. Clicking on the snapshot tool generates a thumbnail image which is stored on the bottom left of the screen. At any point during game play, students can click on their snapshot(s) and type a caption or response to a prompt, and save or submit it to your teacher’s account. Check out You Make Me Sick Additional Features for My BrainPOP for more information and specific snapshot prompts you can give students during You Make Me Sick game play.
- Facilitate a class discussion about the game. Which types of viruses and bacteria were most effective in infecting the host? The least effective? What are the implications for us in terms of trying to stay healthy? Ask students to reflect in writing on what they learned through the game.
Extension Activity:Use the Immune System movie to help students understand how our bodies ward off infection. Encourage students to brainstorm ways to boost the effectiveness of our immune systems and protect ourselves from illness.
Students can also view the Food Safety movie to learn more about how bacteria in food can make us sick, and how we can prevent the spread of foodborne viruses. You may wish to have students complete the Experiment to see first-hand how fungus grows.
Be sure to check out our other Science Games in GameUp!
BrainPOP Movies:Food Safety