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iLabs: Pandemic!! Part III

August 3, 2014

Here is the final installment on the creating of the Pandemic Class, by our intern, Megan Polzin:


iLabs: Teaching Middle School Students About Pandemics

SUCCESS!! Before I go over how the class went, I did make two more last minute changes to the class. The first was the addition of an 8.5’’ x 11’’ sheet of paper containing instructions for Set Up and How to Play. This information was originally going to be on a board at the front of the class, but due to my large handwriting, I was not able to fit it all. These pages were laminated and one copy was given to each group.

The second change I made was creating a Student Version of the PowerPoint. To do this, I eliminated important words from every slide and replaced them with blank underlined spaces. As I progress through the PowerPoint , the students fill in the blanks. This way, the students can take notes, have the links to the videos, and retain the information better!

Now on to how the class went… With everything set up and ready to go, there was nothing left to do but wait. The day before my class, I had the opportunity to meet the group of students and was excited to learn that they were attentive, asked many questions, and seemed genuinely interested in the subject of epidemiology!

Pandemic Class presentation on TV screen

Pandemic Class presentation on TV screen

After welcoming the students and introducing myself, I gave a brief synopsis of the class and started to go through the PowerPoint. It took them about ten minutes to warm up, but once I started on pathogens, vectors, and famous pandemics, they really got excited! We also discussed the basic definitions of epidemics and pandemics, the six stages of a pandemic, and vaccinations. I had only intended to spend thirty minutes on the PowerPoint, but with all of their amazing questions and comments, we spent close to an hour going over it! The pictures and videos were a huge hit, especially the videos from the show, Monsters Inside Me.

Next, we were on to the Pandemic Board Game. I had already set the board up under the ELMO camera and laid out all the game pieces including the additional board with the cut off parts. The large group was divided into four teams of four and each team was given a map card, role card, two reference cards, and a Set Up/How to Play card. I briefly went through the set up and explained how to play. This entire process took about fifteen minutes.

All of the materials used in the Pandemic game class activity

All of the materials used in the Pandemic game class activity

Pandemic Game Board and and enlarged top of board section

Pandemic Game Board and and enlarged top of board section

It took about one round for them to get the hang of it, but after that, they were absolutely fantastic! They were running between tables, exchanging ideas, and making brilliant moves! I was there to help them communicate with one another and give them several tips. Despite the game being challenging, they won with time left to spare!

After the class, the students told me that the class was awesome and that they were definitely buying the board game!

Overall, the class was a great success! Some things that I need to improve upon include the PowerPoint and the additional board. Important terms within the PowerPoint need to be bolded in order to draw attention to them as they are discussed.

Also, the additional board fell down on several occasions, so it needs to have some kind of support in the future. With these minute changes, the class will be even better!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about how I was assigned this project, the challenges I faced, how I dealt with them, and the end result of it all. I had a great time developing this project and was very lucky to have a great support team in the Micro World Investigate Lab who helped me conceptualize and refine my project to make it better!




8 Comments leave one →
  1. permalink
    August 3, 2014 2:10 pm

    This sounds great.    

    • August 6, 2014 4:16 pm

      Thank you! I appreciate your keeping up with all we do, and my intern is so pleased to have her posts up on our blog. 🙂

  2. Patrick Ross permalink
    August 29, 2014 11:38 am

    I really appreciate your efforts in putting this together. How long did the actual game take? What was the total time for the entire class (lecture, rules explanation, and gameplay)?

    • August 29, 2014 1:14 pm

      We had a two-hour class segment for that, and it included the lecture part, brief instructions and gameplay. It can certainly take longer and we did set the game difficulty level at an easier setting. It was more important to have them catch on, collaborate, think outside the box, and get excited and engaged as they raced back and forth between teams crafting deals to try to beat the clock, and the diseases. In fact that group, who was at the Museum for a week-long CSI-science type of camp, even borrowed the game from us on another day as an “after-lunch” activity of choice. So it was very well received, and they grasped it quickly. It helps that the teacher leads them through some of the initial stages, cuts down on confusion, and there were assistants to act as “coaches” but frankly once the kids got the hang of things, they pretty much took over and did the game full-out themselves.

  3. Patrick Ross permalink
    August 29, 2014 2:11 pm

    Sounds wonderful. I’m trying to develop a slimmed down version of Pandemic for a 45 minute 6-12th grade activity at Exploration Place in Wichita. I don’t think I can reduce the Pandemic experience down to that level without losing its essence. This activity is to support our “Ewww, What’s Eating You” exhibit which starts in a few weeks.

    I working on alternative that allows the class to become infected through the sharing of a single cup of phenolpthalein contaminated water. They will be able to test and cure a subset of patients and try to reduce the pandemic. I may also include a quarantine version in which they can isolate suspected, but untested patients.

  4. August 29, 2014 2:40 pm

    I have to agree with you that trying to make Pandemic a 45-minute activity just won’t work. It is a very good and strong tool, but it does require that ramp-up time. We have an Intro to Epidemiology class that we do before they do the Pandemic class to give them some basics. In addition to the spreading of the “phenolphthalein” disease, we then try to track it back to the origin, and also explore, through hand-washing activities, how CDC-recommendations come about and whether they work or not and why. We also include a small ethics portion, such as the ethics of quarantining someone against their will etc. then do a case study of a disease and how it is investigated and tracked back to its origin. That way they get an overview of the processes of epidemiology before they actually do the “world-wide” Pandemic exercise.

  5. Patrick Ross permalink
    August 29, 2014 3:11 pm

    Is there a link to your Introduction to Epidemiology lesson?

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