I teach 10th-grade Biology and Human Physiology at an inner-city comprehensive high school. The school is considered a neighborhood high school and it draws students not only from the surrounding neighborhoods but also from surrounding towns. We have a revolving door policy, serve a transient student population, and take in students throughout the year. This makes teaching especially challenging as students that move into the neighborhood throughout the school year. The student population is culturally diverse and is at different levels of the learning process.
My high school utilizes a block schedule wherein students have four classes per day, each running for about 90 minutes. Students have eight classes total and any given class meets either 2 or 3 times per week. This presents challenges for teachers concerning homework and turn-around time for feedback because of long gaps between class meetings. What the block schedule does offer is a longer class period wherein lab experiments could be carried out with ease. The biology classes are predominantly designed for 10th graders. Whereas the human physiology, which is an elective, is designed for upperclassmen, that are planning to pursue health fields such as nursing after. Biology is a mandatory class for all students and is a graduation requirement. This unit is designed with the 9-12 grade students in mind. This unit could be applied to students who are enrolled in biology, Human Physiology, Public Health, and Science and Research classes.
The target audiences for this unit are the biology students. The unit was designed with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in mind. The State of Connecticut adopted the NGSS in November 2015. The main objectives of these standards are to engage learners in meaningful and exciting science learning. This approach teaches K-12th-grade students to learn science in their own way while collaborating with others. Some of the major features of the NGSS that are incorporated in this unit are the three-dimensional learning that encompasses the science and engineering practices, using science to explain the real-world phenomenon, and lastly the engineering design. The school district recently adopted the NGSS and is currently in the process of aligning the K-12 science curricula with these standards. For example, the current 10th-grade curriculum expects that the students to identify differences between genetic disorders and infectious diseases, understand how bacterial and viral infectious diseases are transmitted, explain the roles of sanitation, vaccinations, and antibiotic medications in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. However, it fails to expose the students to the science of vaccinations, their role in developing immunity and preventing and eradicating infectious diseases worldwide. This absence of this information in the current curriculum is the main inspiration behind the development of this unit.
Hence this unit helps fill in the gaps in the current curriculum such that students will have solid background knowledge about vaccinations and their role in combating infectious diseases among children worldwide. 1 The current unit dives into the history of infectious diseases and vaccinations, different types of immunity and how they are acquired, and 2a brief overview of how vaccinations help produce antibodies that combat disease-causing agents and briefly discuss the vaccination delivery systems that are currently used worldwide. Lastly, this unit will introduce educators to the concept of Design Thinking as a methodology for problem solving. It will give them an opportunity to challenge their students to utilize the design thinking methodology to work collaboratively to solve problems. As a culminating activity, the students are challenged to design a 3“kid-friendly, needle-free” vaccine delivery system. Lastly, the students will be introduced the Design Thinking methodology that will expose them to empathy, work collaboratively with others, understand why they are creating solutions, who they are planning to help, and how their design could improve health outcomes.
This topic has tremendous potential to introduce problem-solving skills through the Design Thinking process and challenges students to create solutions. This unit will also incorporate the 4NGSS practices of asking questions and designing solutions, developing models, conducting research, constructing explanations, obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information. The unit will address the following national, state and district standards: NGSS-HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.