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Model the Chances of Getting an Autoimmune Disease

Grade Range
9th-12th
Group Size
2-4 students
Active Time
110 minutes
Total Time
110 minutes
Area of Science
Human Biology & Health
Key Concepts
Immune System, Autoimmune disease, Genetics
Learning Objectives
  • Understand the factors that contribute to getting an autoimmune disease
  • Explain why, in a given population, some people have an autoimmune disease, and some do not
  • Apply the concepts of probability to model the likelihood of getting an autoimmune disease based on an existing predisposition
autoimmune disease model overview

Overview

Can genetic or environmental factors affect our chances of getting a certain disease? In this activity, your students will model how an existing predisposition can impact the probability of developing an autoimmune disease using dice and M&M's® candy!

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • HS-LS3-3. Apply concepts of statistics and probability to explain the variation and distribution of expressed traits in a population.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Developing and Using Models. Develop and/or use a model (including mathematical and computational) to generate data to support explanations, predict phenomena, analyze systems, and/or solve problems.

Analyzing and Interpreting Data. Apply concepts of statistics and probability (including determining function fits to data, slope, intercept, and correlation coefficient for linear fits) to scientific and engineering questions and problems, using digital tools when feasible.

Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Construct, use, and/or present an oral and written argument or counter-arguments based on data and evidence.
LS3.B: Variation of Traits. Environmental factors also affect expression of traits, and hence affect the probability of occurrences of traits in a population. Thus, the variation and distribution of traits observed depends on both genetic and environmental factors.
Scale, Proportion, and Quantity. Algebraic thinking is used to examine scientific data and predict the effect of a change in one variable on another (e.g., linear growth vs. exponential growth).

Systems and System Models. Models can be used to predict the behavior of a system, but these predictions have limited precision and reliability due to the assumptions and approximations inherent in models.

Credits

Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies

Materials


autoimmune disease lesson plan materials

Materials per class:

  • Four desks
  • Enough room to fit the whole class on each end of the desks (see Figure 2)
  • Bowls or cups (8)
  • M&M's candies (24 of each color: red, green, yellow, blue)
  • Six-sided dice (6)
  • Pencil or pen for each student
  • Clear tape

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Grade Range
9th-12th
Group Size
2-4 students
Active Time
110 minutes
Total Time
110 minutes
Area of Science
Human Biology & Health
Key Concepts
Immune System, Autoimmune disease, Genetics
Learning Objectives
  • Understand the factors that contribute to getting an autoimmune disease
  • Explain why, in a given population, some people have an autoimmune disease, and some do not
  • Apply the concepts of probability to model the likelihood of getting an autoimmune disease based on an existing predisposition

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