Monitoring an Epidemic: Analyzing Through Graphical Displays Factors Relating to the Spread of HIV/AIDS
Heidi A. Everett-Cacopardo
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Student Population and Rationale
The tenth grade students I interact with provide an engaging audience at a New Haven magnet school for health sciences, business, and technology. They are an inquisitive group that enjoys enhancing their understanding of the world in which they live. Most of the students I teach have not traveled outside their communities and are curious about what the world beyond the streets of their communities. The advances in technology have provided a wealth of resources on the Internet giving the students access to quantitative information about various factors affecting human populations around the world. Spreadsheet software programs enable me to take a topic like human population growth, and develop activities that allow the students to manipulate data sets and create graphical displays. This unit is intended to expand upon what the students have learned from analyzing population pyramids of developed and developing countries. Large amounts of data have been collected on the HIV/AIDS cases around the world and are accessible on the Internet. The students will access data on HIV/AIDS using the wealth of databases that has been collected on this epidemic to compare and contrast developed and underdeveloped countries. The portion of the unit devoted to HIV/AIDS will have an epidemiological component.
I have designed this unit to align with the district standards for content covered in a biology course regarding scientific literacy, numeracy, and science, technology and society. Although this unit is designed for a high school biology course, graphing is an interdisciplinary skill used at all grade levels and parts of this unit could easily be used for middle school and used in a math or civics class. This unit is broken into two parts that may either be taught consecutively or at different times in the school year. The first section on graphing skills I intend to teach at the beginning of the school year due to the importance of this skill in science. Part two of my unit will be an extension of an established unit on population pyramids of developed and underdeveloped countries. Students will use their graphing skills to generate their own graphs using data on HIV/AIDS cases in developed and underdeveloped countries. The students will be introduced to epidemiology, and then will learn to use HIV/AIDS databases to develop an appropriate graph. The students will use the graphs they have generated on the HIV/AIDS and then evaluate the relationship between their graph and the population pyramid of the country they have analyzed HIV data on.
My district curriculum places this unit on population pyramids around the third marking period and this is why I will not teach the two sections of my unit consecutively. The unit on population pyramids is a required science, technology, and society (STS) task. The state of Connecticut tests all biology students during our state standardized assessment on population dynamics using population pyramids. I have found this unit on population pyramids unproductive in providing the students with the opportunity to interact with the factors that are behind the shape of a population pyramid. I am hoping to enhance the students’ understanding of analyzing population pyramids by creating a strong connection with the factors molding the demographics of various countries through student generated graphics completed by hand and through the use of spreadsheet software programs. The culminating assessment for the unit will be students generating appropriate graphical displays on HIV/AIDS cases from a developed and underdeveloped country and determining how the data on HIV can be linked to the population pyramids of each country.