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Community discussion about the coronavirus

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Flavio Mendez Flavio Mendez 46216 Points

In a recent NSTA Blog titled: Leveraging Science in the News, Will Reed, teacher at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep in Chicago writes:

As science teachers, particularly those of us working to implement three-dimensional (3-D) instruction in our classroom, we strive to make learning relevant to student experiences, engaging them in phenomena that have meaning in their own lives and enabling them to contextualize the learning. What better way to drive student interest than by drawing from current news headlines? Your students are probably already asking you questions about what they see on various media channels. A prime example of such a headline is the recent novel coronavirus, first documented in Wuhan, China.

What conversations are you having with students and colleagues at your schools?  What resources are you using from NSTA or other sources in your conversations?  Please share your thoughts, suggested practices, and ideas in this thread.

NSTA has made available a collection, including a Secondary Science lesson plan, authored by Reed. The collection also includes a variety of resources from NSTA.

Plan to join us for a live web seminar about COVID-19 on March 25, starting at 7:00 pm ET.  Registration to this and other web seminars is free at:


Emily Faulconer Emily Faulconer 5215 Points

My Campus is already fully online, with very few face-to-face classes at satellite locations, but we have had extensive talks with our counterparts at our residential campuses to help them rapidly transition online. My institution (higher ed) allows less flexibility to add emerging topics like this directly into the course; the format of my online class was already established the first week of January. However, the discussion topic in my chemistry class two weeks ago was a "Chemistry in the News" topic and so I steered the conversation to focus heavily on coronavirus. I used this NSTA resource as a starting point for facilitating the conversation: Novel Coronavirus - What's the Real Story

I found some ACS articles to support students and now I see that ACS has collated articles into a list here: Chemistry in Coronavirus Research. 

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 86973 Points

Hi Flavio,

This morning I switched to an online/virtual platform, where part of the class time that would have been face-to-face moved to our private university discussion forum set up by NSTA because my students use the NSTA Learning Center as their e-Text class bundle.  I posted a free probe that can be accessed in the Learning Center.  It is called, 'Catching a Cold' by Page Keeley and it is a book chapter.  I administered the probe to my students via the discussion forum.  I wanted to find out how many of my elementary preservice teachers had misconceptions on how viruses like the common cold are transmitted.  It was enlightening for me as their instructor and for them!  After we all had time to post our responses, I then had them read the book chapter.  Then I opened up a new discussion topic entitled, "Our misconceptions and fears and how to hide/share them from/with our students".  Students responded to specific questions that I asked, and then they had to respond to a couple of other peer responses.  In less than an hour my group of 12 students had 148 views and 52 responses. They confronted their misconceptions and shared their concerns.  It was an excellent discussion! As fears were confronted, good information about what we as a community, county, state and nation can be doing to slow down the spread of the Corona virus was shared.  They all better understood social distancing and the importance of hand washing.  I think they all have been empowered to make the best of our present situation.  They were able to firsthand see how important factual, scientific information is when dealing with real world problems.

Be Well!


Adjunct Professor of science methods courses

Southern Illinois University/Carbondale

Mary Bigelow Mary Bigelow 10180 Points

Thanks for hosting the web seminar on March 25. By then, the situation will probably be a lot different than it is today (it will probably be a lot different tomorrow, too). I think that is a challenge for teachers -- keeping up with the events and the science behind them to help students stay informed. Students can access so much online, so it's also important for students, their families, and teachers to learn how to recognize and share legitimate source of information, rather than personal opinion. -- Mary B

Randy Russell Randy Russell 300 Points

I have created a list of educational simulations & games from various source about diseases and the medical responses to them:

Simulations and games provide minds-on, active learning opportunities for students. If you have suddenly shifted to online teaching and need help engaging students in ways that partially substitute for the decrease in face-to-face and hands-on engagement the normal classroom environment provides, consider adding educational simulations to the mix.

If you want help conveying the complex systems aspect of infectious disease transmission, consider using educational simulations. And learning about modeling is a major component of the NGSS!

I'll be adding more items to my list in the coming weeks.

Erik Lucas Erik Lucas 695 Points

Thanks for the list! Definitely using these games in the coming weeks!

Jen Gutierrez Jennifer Gutierrez 1510 Points

All this incredible outpouring of support is so amazing and encouraging! I am so proud to be a part of this incredible organization that continues to step up to support educators! 

I have been helping to share these suggestions and ideas with our Districts across the U.S. - I will continue to try to compile and add them to the incredible growing list.

For members checking out this thread be sure to follow @NSTA on Twitter, as well as #NGSSchat and #NSTAchat. Lots of great free resources are continually being shared and updated as we all experience and learn more :)

Martin Weiss Martin Weiss 10 Points

The New York Hall of Science developed an interactive comic book about zoonotic diseases in order to help middle schoolers understand that a substantial number of diseases that afflict us are zoonotic; that they originate in other animals and infect us. We used the outbreak of West Nile disease in 1999 in New York City to help the users understand how diseases spread to us from other animals in this case from birds, animals that look nothing like us and how scientists use methods of science; collecting evidence, analyzing evidence, creating hypotheses and testing these against evidnece to solve mysteries. We created three protagonists who have very different lerning styles in an interactive comic book that is designed for the user to follow along as the kids collect and analyze evidence, mentored by scientists modled after the actual scientists who solved the mysterious disease that had crows "falling from the skies".

 Transmissions: Gone Viral is available, free, online at We have a blog about the creation, a teachers activity guide to accompany the online interactive comic and a downloadable print version (not interactive of course). You can learn more about Transmissions Gone Viral in an article from the November/December 2019 issue of ASTC’s Dimensions magazine.

This project and Transmissions: Gone Viral were created with support from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the National Institutes of Health under Award Number 5 R25 GM129168. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Zach Millan Zach Millan 609 Points

As of now, I am currently working on damage control for students who are scared of COVID-19 and reminding students of good hygeine practices to prevent the spread of the virus. Many of my colleagues are using this time to review course material with the students (since we were advised not to introduce new material for the time being), which has proven interesting with COVID-19 as the leading phenomenon. As of now, I only have my students reviewing news articles pertaining to COVID-19 to reinforce source legitimacy and the differences between primary and secondary sources. That said, I plan to recover viruses through a Virus Transmission virtual lab through Gizmo (ExploreLearning) which discusses the different modes of transmission. Then, I'm having students explore the effects of COVID-19 and elaborate on why we are practicing quarantine for this virus. For now, it has been a game of calming nerves for students through the pursuit of knowledge.

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