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Human Genetic Variation

Human Genetic Variation | Search for Better Health |
Daphne van Vloten's insight:

This website is useful for dot point 1 of the Search for Better Health (outline how the function of genes, mitosis, cell differentiation and specialisation assist in the maintenance of health). This site follows the same format as the emerging infectious disease resource as it is made by the same organisations- National Institutes of Health and the National Human Genome Institute.



Using the resource the main concepts to be gained are:


An understanding of the cell


               - Storing information to guide their functions

               Cells can differentiate, complex multi-cellular organisms are formed as a highly organised arrangement of differentiated cells


Understanding of the molecular basis of heredity


                - Instructions for specifying the characteristics of the organism are carried in the DNA

                -Changed in DNA occur spontaneously at low rates

                -Understanding of biological evolution

                    How species evolve over time





An effective feature of this resource is that it contains embedded assessments throughout the activities (not just at the end) which you may or may not choose to enforce the students to undertake. These asses a variety of aspect of the learning process, such as students’ prior knowledge and current understanding, problem solving & critical thinking skills and ability to synthesize ideas and apply understanding to a new situation.

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Animations | Wellcome Trust

Animations | Wellcome Trust | Search for Better Health |
Daphne van Vloten's insight:

This website provides very clear explicit animations to explain some concepts of disease. The animations go through step by step and use simplistic clear graphics to help their explanations. These animations are grouped into the categories DNA, protozoans, worms, bacterial disease and virus diseases.  The animation of Malaria is especially relevant for dot point 3 when students process information to understand the cause of malaria. Although not in this unit, the site contains a really good animation of DNA replication which zooms in on the genome providing a simplistic summary of the location and function of DNA.

The animations do not come with sound, as such it would work better, especially with students who are not so good at literacy or multitasking (focusing on the animation as well as the text) to read the text to the class as you go along. The animations should be paused to explain complex parts of the information or to explain some representations in the animations that may confuse some students.

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Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases

Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases | Search for Better Health |
Daphne van Vloten's insight:

Emerging & Re-emerging Infectious Diseases


This is a huge website containing a lot of resources. For the Search for Better Health unit this resource can be used for dot points:


     3 search for microbes as causes of disease:

             3.2: this website gives many examples of different kinds of pathogens for different diseases; this concept consolidated by having the students seek the causes of infectious diseases in scenarios

             3.3: there is a whole lesson plan along with resources on the role of antibiotics in the management of infectious disease – specifically on ‘superbugs’


     7 the development of a wide range of strategies to prevent and control disease:

              7.1: the role of quarantine in preventing the spread of disease. Students are to evaluate proposals to combat infectious disease

              7.2: the site contains a discussion on the re-emergence of previously controlled global health problems, such as whooping cough and tuberculosis, this will promote debate on the effectiveness of public health programs




Within the extensive teachers guide and lesson plans the focus areas and science skills are outlined some of them include:


       Science as a human endeavour:

                The emergence of new diseases can be and are caused by environmental change (e.g. human encroachment into wilderness areas)                  The limited amount of resources means that allocating funds among projects that address different diseases raises complex ethical questions. Understanding relevant biological principles can help in making these decisions.


       Use of maths to improve investigations and communications

                 Epidemiological studies: looking at number of immunized individuals and infection rates

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A Science Odyssey: You Try It: Doctor Over Time

Daphne van Vloten's insight:

Through this interactive activity students gain an understanding of how advances in medical science have improved the prognosis for many diseases. Students assume the role of a patient and are able to compare the diagnostic techniques and treatments used by doctors for three different illnesses at various times during the last century. The activity allows the students their own pathways of different illness and times in history.



The themes focused on for each illness include:


- Penicillin resistance: dot point 3 of Search for Better Health – discussing problems related to antibiotic resistance

- kidney transplant: dot point 4 – why organ transplants should trigger a immune response; dot point 5 – reasons for the suppression of the immune response in organ transplant patients

- Diabetes: could be used for dot point 2 as an example of a non-infectious disease






In order to make this activity more interactive amongst the class groups could be formed- divide class into 3 for each illness then 3 again for each time in history. Students can role play each scenario in chronological order to each other which would be more effective to ensure student understanding, be more engaging and facilitate discussion.

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MEDMYST — Explore Science - Infectious Diseases

Daphne van Vloten's insight:

Contained is a serious of interactive games that explore infectious diseases. Students assume the roles of scientists performing field and laboratory work to solve microbiology problems dealing with cholera, small pox and malaria. For dot point 3.1 in Search for Better Health, the first mission looks into Koch’s postulates.  What makes this resource so engaging are the high-grade graphics, it is all interactive (with many activities), it forms a story line, and it uses narration as well as text.

 There are 5 missions:

- Mission 1: Intro to microbiology covers topics of disease prevention measures, disease spread, immune system, Koch’s postulates, and the 6 types of pathogens

- Mission 2: Cholera covers topics of bacterial structure and replication, case-control study, cholera and germ theory

- Mission 3: Pox virus covers topics small pox, vaccine development and virus structure and replication

- Mission 4: Malaria covers topics history of malaria, immune system, malaria and vectors

- Mission 5: Zoonotic diseases covers topics anthrax, salmonella and zoonoses

This resource can be made more educational by having students complete the mission log assignments as they do the episodes. These are given on the teacher materials page of each mission, it is just a simple worksheet for the students to fill out as they go, and the questions are on the key scientific concepts involved in each mission.

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