The tenth grade students I interact with provide an engaging audience at an urban magnet high school for health sciences, business and technology. The topic of health and the human machine provide various avenues for me to engage my high school biology students. Human health is continually a source of interest among my students as it is directly applicable to their own health, the health of their families and communities. Viruses are the cause of many common infectious diseases that the students encounter in their daily lives. This unit serves to lead students through an investigation on how viruses affect human life. The unit takes this essential concept and hones in on viral infections and the advancements made in the preventing the transmission of viruses with the development of vaccinations.
The significant advancements that have been made in biotechnology have provided for large improvements in producing safer vaccines. Some vaccines of the past have carried the risk of transmitting the disease they were intended to prevent. The advancements in biotechnology have also allowed for the production of vaccines to increase dramatically. Infectious diseases such as small pox have been eradicated in human populations around the world due to these advancements in biotechnology (Saltzman, 2007). Vaccinations are a common experience for children of the 21st century. Children are the main recipients of the most recently developed vaccinations due to their need for immunity against infectious diseases they have yet to encounter in their young lives. The most recent vaccination that school age children (specifically females) are being encouraged and even mandated to take is the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
The unit will serve to educate the students about an infectious viral disease that has a significant presence among their peer groups and will equip them with the information to put their education into action by lowering their risk of contracting HPV. This unit also serves to educate students according to the district and state standards involving the characteristics of a virus, how viruses are transmitted, and the various DNA technologies that genetic engineering employs in producing a vaccine.