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IMGALTTAG Volume II: Disease Disasters:  Pandemics, Epidemics, and How and Why They Happen


Epidemics and Pandemics:  HIV and AIDS
Leslie Bertel
Carmalt Academy

This is an interactive unit designed for use in the computer lab. It geared toward eighth grade students, but could be used for grades seven and nine as well. The unit, written as a PowerPoint presentation, is meant to be a non-threatening way for both the student and teacher to approach the subject of HIV and AIDS. With the computer as a learning tool, the students can explore this subject at their own pace, with little or no fear of fellow students’ comments. This unit can also be updated regularly because the information (much of it obtained from the Centers for Disease Control) is available in the public domain.

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Tracing Hereditary Diseases
By Ralph H. Holmes, Ph.D.
Westinghouse High School 

Tracing hereditary Diseases is a curriculum unit designed for eleventh and twelfth graders in Health II. The unit consists of five lessons with each one lasting a week. Students will learn the basics of epidemiology and genealogy. They will conduct a family health history survey and evaluate their personal risk potential for a family hereditary disease. They will also research and write an essay and develop a plan for prevention of a particular hereditary disease.


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Germs: How We Can Fight Them
By Evelyn Houser
Mifflin Elementary School

This is a two-week unit designed to teach young children five or six years old that germs are all around us and can be very harmful even if we can’t see them. We will learn the importance of avoiding germs through thorough hand washing, and through not sharing straws or cups. We will learn to cover our coughs and sneezes, and to keep our bodies healthy and ready to fight germs by brushing our teeth, and eating well. We will learn how our skin protects us but germs can enter our bodies through a cut or through our mouths, eyes, and noses. These crucial health concepts taken in part from the health curriculum currently provided by the Pittsburgh Board of Education are presently not being taught at all or are covered very briefly by the physical education teachers who see the students only once a week. This unit is two weeks long and can be taught in the kindergarten classroom by the homeroom teacher preferably in the early weeks of school or by the physical education teacher.  These concepts meet the health standards of Pittsburgh Public Schools and are critical to the students' good health. They may even improve students’ attendance by keeping them from getting sick as often as they normally do.


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Flu Pathogens to Pandemics
By Elyse L. Karpa
Westinghouse High School

In this curriculum unit the students’ attention will be drawn towards the historical component of the influenza virus. It will challenge them to question some of the hear-say information passed down through the years from one generation to another about the flu virus. The students will gain a greater respect for the importance of their health status. They will be able to trace the virus on a microscopic level to observe how it initiates its contact with their body and the importance of the immune system in combating it. The students will further be able to compare the spread of the influenza virus with the spread of a computer virus. This ill motivate even the most computer-savvy students to pay better attention to their health status. The Flu-Shot Informational Pamphlet activity will especially emphasize the importance of being immunized each year. This information can easily be shared with family and friends to increase community health awareness. Instructors can use this unit in its entirety, or individualized segments may be used to introduce different health concepts.


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Sick! Calculating Causes and Cures
Esther Liston
Rogers School for the Creative and Performing Arts

Epidemiology, the study of how diseases spread using mathematical models, is not usually offered as a major at the undergraduate level and is certainly not an elective offered in high school, but teachers can expose students to mathematically related fields. This is a “take with” unit to complete with high school students whose classroom I will visit.  This could also be a unit graduate students in public health might complete with students as part of a volunteer opportunity. Although the unit lessons could be completed at any point during the year, part of my unit is designed for my current eighth grade students studying exponential functions in the Growing, Growing, Growing text used in the Connected Mathematics Project pre-algebra course. Similarly, teachers using How Likely Is It? for grade 6 students usually complete the book and investigation 7 in May or June. Any or all of four introductory lessons can be used to explore students’ background knowledge. When students calculate risk ratio, odds ratio, attributable risk, prevalence, incidence, sensitivity, specificity, predictive value positive, predictive value negative, they work closely with fractions, decimals, and percents (Anchors M8.A.2.2.1 and M8.A.1.1.1). These calculations would make wonderful enrichment for sixth graders after completing Bits and Pieces II. The NCTM Principles and Standards reminds and encourages teachers of students in grades 9-12 to search for the best problems to solve. “A significant part of a teacher’s responsibility consists of planning problems that will give students the opportunity to learn important content through their explorations of the problems and to learn and practice a wide range of heuristic strategies. The teacher must be courageous, for even well-planned lessons can veer into uncharted territory” (341).


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Diseases Associated with Steroid Use:  Teaching High School Students on the Dangers Caused by Steroid Use
Ronald Medley
Oliver High School

The main idea for this curriculum is to inform our students about the dangers of anabolic steroids and some of the diseases that may occur with their abuse. Most athletes are using steroids because they may be concerned with winning, increasing their strength or performing better. Others are tempted to take them to pick up the opposite sex through building their bodies up like Adonises. Neither the athletes nor the common users may realize the problems or diseases that using these steroids might do to their bodies during short term or long term use. I will attempt to present some history about how anabolic steroids were introduced and why they are still used with our present day athletes from high schools, colleges, and the professional ranks that were affected by the use of anabolic steroids. Steroids are associated with many diseases, troubles and deaths of athletes. I hope that many high school students will take serious notice of the extremely serious problems in sports today, so they may not suffer life-long unhealthiness.


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Chatham University
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IMGALTTAG Pittsburgh Teachers Institute
Jointly sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
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