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Stop the Spread

Elementary, Middle

Description

Each year millions of children suffer as a result of inadequate access to clean water.  This STEM hands-on learning unit raises awareness of the challenges in maintaining health in developing countries where infrastructure like toilets and running water are limited.  The relationship between hygiene and infectious disease is explored in a meaningful context with a series of lessons that actively engage students in:

  • Modelling how infection is spread through human to human contact
  • Problem solving to create a working hand-washing device
  • Discussing the global issue of infectious disease through open dialogue
  • Creating education materials to teach young children in Kenya about disease prevention
  • Considering personal responsibility strategies to help others
This resource guides teachers to deliver a hands-on inquiry-based STEM project, challenging students to find a real solution to a global problem.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Communication
  • Research
  • Design
  • Examining cause and effect relationships

Strengths

  • Well planned with lists of required materials, task schedules and support materials
  • Includes a PowerPoint presentation to support classroom learning
  • Includes a variety of learning experiences with an emphasis on a hands-on approach
  • Supports independent decision making using skills like brainstorming and dialogue

Weaknesses

  • Does not include follow up action projects to strengthen the learning experience
  • The writing task where students develop education materials does not include an accompanying evaluation rubric

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This unit supports Science, Social Studies and Health outcomes related to disease transmission, poverty, sustainable communities and the link between a healthy environment and human health.  The lesson could also be integrated into science or social studies units examining water conservation and pollution.  A class could visit a local sewage treatment plant to learn about the process used to treat raw human waste so it can be safely released into the environment or research the water treatment process that provides clean drinking water to their community. 

An important hygiene resource is soap and in developing countries this commodity is so precious that it is often not used for hand washing.  A class could organize a school event to collect new bars of soap which could be donated to organizations like the Red Cross.

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Human Health & Environment (2)

    • Environmental Contaminants & Health Hazards
    • Health Promotion
  • Human Rights (2)

    • Gender Equality
    • Poverty

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

Students are challenged to consider the relationship between poverty and preventable disease as part of the larger global issue of inequitable resource distribution.  As they explore grass-roots aid strategies they will gain new insight into the power of community action for community improvement.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

This resource encourages critical thinking about the links between environment, human health and economics.  Students will recognize that infectious disease can ravage communities while causing increased burdens on public resources like hospitals.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

Students will question why so many children die from preventable disease and gain an increased awareness of the multitude of factors that contribute to disease resistance.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good

Throughout this resource students are encouraged to consider how individual action can support global initiatives that improve life in developing countries.  A class could build upon learning with an action project that educates their peers about the human crises caused by pollution and contaminated water.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

Poverty misconceptions are challenged as learners become more aware that several illnesses can be eradicated with proper infrastructure.   Many students will also be motivated to act on new learning through personal stewardship strategies.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good

Students will learn that poor hygiene is often not a personal choice but a result of poverty.  Understanding the difficulties of children trying to access clean water and proper sanitation will definitely increase student concern for the welfare of others.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not considered
Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

This lesson deals with challenges in maintaining basic health infrastructure in poorer regions of the world.  However, Canada has its own poverty issues, particularly in First Nations reserves where housing is often inadequate.  A class could explore why our wealthy country that has an abundance of fresh, clean water still has citizens facing illness caused by poor living conditions.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

This resource does present a positive vision for the future where global health concerns are improved through citizen action.  To further support this concept students could compare disease statistics in communities where organizations like Oxfam have constructed freshwater wells and regions that still struggle to find clean water.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good

Prior knowledge is activated through a hands-on inquiry process that supports independent thinking.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

This unit supports science outcomes associated with disease biology and building simple machines.  Social studies and health concepts related to healthy living and sustainable communities are integrated into the lesson.  Students also use writing skills to develop educational materials.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

Students are presented with a hands-on problem where they use exploration and discovery to build their own water pump.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

The practical approach ensures that the lesson will appeal to a wide variety of learners.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

An authentic problem forms the basis of the lesson and an emphasis on teamwork engages students in a meaningful task that is applicable and relevant to current world issues.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Good

Peer to peer interaction with a focus on dialogue and idea sharing is a key strength of this lesson.  Teams also prepare educational materials for youth in communities where disease is taking a toll on human life.  To ensure a complete learning experience a class could link with a school in a developing country to share the messages they created and discuss the daily challenges facing less fortunate children.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

A self-reflection “passport” provides a tool to evaluate how each student achieves in skills such as teamwork and communication.  The education materials produced by students could be used as a formal assessment of content learning using a standard English Language Arts rubric.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Good

Peer to peer communication is integrated into every aspect of this lesson and results in the production of educational materials that can be used to teach others.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

This resource focuses on a world issue that is currently on the forefront of political debate. 

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

By designing their own hand-washing devices students learn that creativity and innovation are important tools in alleviating human health crises. 

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.