Grade Range
6th-12th
Group Size
1-2 students
Active Time
100 minutes
Total Time
100 minutes
Area of Science
Human Biology & Health
Pandemics – COVID-19
Key Concepts
vaccines, outbreaks, vaccine effectiveness, disease modeling, COVID-19
Learning Objectives
  • Explain how vaccines interact with the immune system.
  • Differentiate between how vaccines protect individuals and populations.
  • Investigate how parameters like vaccine effectiveness and percentage of the population that has been vaccinated can affect the outcomes of viral outbreaks.
Credits
Sandra Slutz, PhD, Science Buddies
Vaccine shot being administered to someone’s bare arm.

Overview

What exactly is a vaccine? Can vaccines prevent outbreaks? How effective does a vaccine need to be to help a population during an outbreak? Students will explore these questions and more in this lesson plan by first learning the biology behind vaccines. They will then use SimPandemic, a free online tool, to model different vaccine parameters to understand how vaccines affect both individuals and populations during a COVID-19 outbreak.

Remote learning adaptation: This lesson plan can be conducted remotely. Students can work independently on the Explore section of the lesson plan using the Student Worksheet as a guide. The Engage and Reflect sections can either be dropped entirely, done in writing remotely, or be conducted over a video chat.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • MS-LS2-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
  • MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
  • HS-LS2-8. Evaluate evidence for the role of group behavior on individual and species' chances to survive and reproduce.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
MS
Developing and Using Models. Develop and/or use a model to generate data to test ideas about phenomena in natural or designed systems, including those representing inputs and outputs, and those at unobservable scales

HS
Developing and Using Models. Develop, revise, and/or use a model based on evidence to illustrate and/or predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system
MS
LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystem. Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors.

HS
LS2.D: Social Interactions and Group Behavior. Group behavior has evolved because membership can increase the chances of survival for individuals and their genetic relatives.
MS
Cause and Effect. Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Systems and System Models. Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes, and outputs—and energy and matter flows within systems.

HS
Cause and Effect. Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system.

Systems and System Models. When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models.

Materials

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Grade Range
6th-12th
Group Size
1-2 students
Active Time
100 minutes
Total Time
100 minutes
Area of Science
Human Biology & Health
Pandemics – COVID-19
Key Concepts
vaccines, outbreaks, vaccine effectiveness, disease modeling, COVID-19
Credits
Sandra Slutz, PhD, Science Buddies
Learning Objectives
  • Explain how vaccines interact with the immune system.
  • Differentiate between how vaccines protect individuals and populations.
  • Investigate how parameters like vaccine effectiveness and percentage of the population that has been vaccinated can affect the outcomes of viral outbreaks.
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