Online Resources for Educating Students about Ebola and Other Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases

This project will develop a Web-based set of instructional materials and resources that will use the recent Ebola outbreak as the overarching narrative for educating middle and high school students about the disease, its causative agent, how it is spread, and approaches for responding to it and controlling the epidemic.

Award Number: 
1518824
Funding Period: 
Sunday, February 1, 2015 to Sunday, January 31, 2016
Full Description: 

This project will develop a Web-based set of instructional materials and resources that will use the recent Ebola outbreak as the overarching narrative for educating middle and high school students about the disease, its causative agent, how it is spread, and approaches for responding to it and controlling the epidemic. Secondary school students will receive valuable information that they need to think critically and with a strong knowledge base about the current Ebola outbreak. The resources will strengthen their skills in accessing, making sense of, and assessing the information they find and applying it to understanding the implications of the outbreak to their own lives. The instructional materials based on the Ebola outbreak will be used as a gateway to developing similar materials for other emerging and re-emerging diseases. This extension is critically important because the Ebola crisis will end, hopefully soon, but the threat of epidemics and pandemics will continue.

The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa has resulted in widespread concerns and unfounded fears in this country. To avoid overreaction and inappropriate responses to these epidemics, and also to ensure sensible preparation in the event of a real threat, citizens must have a foundational knowledge about these diseases to build upon. One effective way to address this lack of understanding in the populace is to introduce students to the topic during their secondary education. Most curricula and standards do not explicitly include this important area of study even though students are generally fascinated by the topic and it provides an engaging vehicle for learning fundamental concepts in biology. Students need to understand what further information they need, to have the evaluative skills to determine reliable information from misinformation, and to know how to apply this information in determining what actions need to be taken. This project will provide students with valuable information that they need to think critically and with a strong knowledge base about the current Ebola outbreak.

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