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Project Ideas
Looking for more ways to spread virus knowledge to your students? Here are eight ideas that you can turn into individual or classroom projects.
Check out our Viruses CD-ROM which includes similar activities.
  1. Shot in the Arm.
    Each fall thousands of people get flu shots. Use reference books, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet to research the influenza vaccine and how it works. Create a poster that shows the pros and cons of getting annual flu shots, and make recommendations about who should get these shots.
  2. Who Has the Right?
    During the flu epidemic of 1918, local governments tried to keep the epidemic from spreading. Public places were closed, whole towns were quarantined, and people were forced to wear masks. Research the deadly effects of this epidemic and how different governments responded, including the variety of regulations they imposed. Then write an essay that discusses whether you believe the government has the right to impose such regulations at the sacrifice of individual rights.
  3. To Kill a Virus.
    In 1980, smallpox was declared eliminated worldwide. But two collections of the virus remain frozen in vials, under heavy security. One in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the other is in Moscow, Russia. There are concerns that terrorists may have gained access to the virus and attempt to use it against the public. Have students research the pros and cons of maintaining these collections. Then hold a class debate about whether or not the viruses should be destroyed.
  4. Panama Fever.
    Major Walter Reed was a military physician who, in the late 1800s, led a team of army research scientists in a study of the cause and spread of yellow fever in Cuba. Because of his work, the United States was able to build the Panama Canal, which joins the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. A French group had failed some 20 years earlier when their canal construction work was halted due to an outbreak of yellow fever. Research yellow fever, focusing on Walter Reed?s contributions and how the spread of this disease is prevented today.
  5. A Close Second.
    Both Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin worked on developing a polio vaccine. Salk took polio viruses and ?killed? them with formaldehyde to create his vaccine. Sabin designed a vaccine with weakened ?live? viruses. As it turned out, Salk?s vaccine was the first to be used on the general public. Research the risks of both Salk?s and Sabin?s methods, and discuss the ethics of testing vaccines on people.
  6. Outbreak.
    Write a short story depicting the outbreak of a mysterious disease. Where is the setting for the outbreak? How does the virus spread? What happens to the victims? Then come up with a step-by-step plan to stop your virus from spreading.
  7. See How They Spread.
    Get your entire school to participate in this experiment that demonstrates how a virus can invade one cell and wind up infecting a great many more. Select a student in your class to give two other kids a secret message. It should be a simple statement, and it should be written on a piece of paper to make sure that it is communicated accurately. At the end of the day, take a poll of homerooms or have an assembly to count up how many kids received the message.
  8. Viral Action Scrapbook.
    Viruses make the headlines all the time. Keep track of viral action by gathering interesting articles about viruses and diseases. Look for images in magazines, newspapers, and on the Internet. Look at advertisements. How do people use diseases to sell? How are viruses both harmful and helpful? What effects do viruses have on people and the environment? How do they affect you and your family, your school, the country, and the world?