Because of funding from the National Institutes of Health, Wheeling Jesuit University will receive $1.2 million over the next five years to create, pilot test and disseminate instructional activities related to the project Pandem-Sim: Saving the World With Biology, funded by the Science Education Partnership Award program at the National Institutes of Health.
According to a press release, “the goal of the learning activities is to teach high school students about biology using historic pandemic flu outbreaks as the model to engage young learners.”
According to Charles Wood, the project’s principal investigator, said the first activity will be creating a live stimulation of new pandemic outbreaks, with students asked to play “the roles of medical scientists, tracking the spread of the disease, isolating the specific flu strain, determining effective treatments to stop the spread and issuing flue emergency bulletins.”
The second portion of the project is expected to include developing problem-based learning modules, career development activities and biological resources that offer teachers ways to incorporate the new learning into the classroom.
Students will use Google Maps to “track the spread of disease cases, view videos of patient interviews, match images of microscope slides of new flu tissue samples with known flu strains and run models of epidemic spread,” according to the news release.
Pilot testing will take place at schools in Western Pennsylvania with the Pandem-Sim being advised by Dr. William Mercer, health officer for the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department, Dr. Somu Chatterjee, epidemiologist at the University of Kentucky Clinical Sciences Department and Thomas Songer, professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. Pandem-Sim will be developed in conjunction with WJU’s Challenger Learning Center and will be offered via live teleconferencing to classrooms in the Mountain State.