Part of Lesson Plan: Epidemiology Lab - Viral Transmission
Activity Overview / Details
Students will be given limited information regarding the purpose of fluid transfer until after the transmissions are complete (this helps keep the process more random and usually results in a better transmission pattern). I model proper fluid transmission for the students. Using a pipette and a test tube filled with an unknown clear liquid (all students except one have a sample of water, the one student has diluted sodium hydroxide NaOH). I demonstrate that all students need to take a few drops out of their test tube and place it inside the test tube of another student. After that, I put the remainder of the solution in the pipette back into the original test tube (so that the pipette is completely empty before conducting a second transfer). The second and third transfers then would be a recombined solution between the original and the sample given by the other student. Each student should transfer fluids with three different individuals in class. Depending on the maturity and demeanor of the class, I will moderate transfer times to keep everyone on task. If the students are capable, I give them five minutes to make their three transfers (I play soft music during this part and turning it off indicates the end of this portion of the activity.
At the end of this activity, I explain that the average American engages in three risky behaviors in their lifetime (unprotected sex, IV needle sharing, etc.), and the three fluid transfers just simulated that. Although their fluids all look the same (translucent, transparent), some of the students are infected with Jaguar Flu. We can then move on to the diagnostic portion of our activity.
Depending on time, I remind them that three is just an average, and many people engage in risky behaviors that leave them open to infection far more often than that. There is a small video clip of "Patient Zero" for HIV from the movie "And The Band Played On", where he is being interviewed by an epidemiologist and he admits to thousands of casual sexual encounters without any sort of protection. The clip is linked below if you wish to use it. (from :20 to 1:16)