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The Malaria Project

Page history last edited by mariaelizabethbunn@... 5 years, 10 months ago


Big Ideas

Lesson Overview   Eliciting and Engaging the Student Developing the Ideas Checking for Understanding  

~3-4 Class Periods

BIG IDEA 1:  What is Malaria?

In these five lessons, students will develop a basic understanding of malaria

as a human disease, including:


  • The life cycle of Plasmodium, the malaria-causing parasite.
  • The early scientists that were fundamental in our understanding of the disease. 
  • Mosquito anatomy and the sites of the key entry and exit points for vector pathogens like Plasmodium. 
  • The scope of the malaria epidemic and be able to identify major areas of risk around the globe.





Lesson 1-1: An Introduction to the Disease




Lesson 1-2: Disease Life Cycle and Transmission


Lesson 1-3: Discovering Malaria


Lesson 1-4: Mosquito Dissection and Blood Smears Lab


Lesson 1-5: The Spread of Malaria





  • Have students play this visually informative Malaria Game from NobelPrize.org! Missions include guiding Falci the parasite and his friends to the liver where they can multiply!


Ask Students:


  • Knowing what you do now, suggest some simple preventative measures that could be used to reduce the risk of malaria infection.


  • Using evidence from your lab, draw a labeled diagram showing the anatomical structures of the mosquito that are most important for the transmission of malaria.


  • Why do you think is it difficult for many people in the hardest hit areas of the world to access these simple methods of prevention?



~4 class periods  BIG IDEA 1.A: The Biology of Malaria; Going Deeper

In a deeper exploration of Big Idea 1, these lessons look more specifically into the biology of the human immune system, the malaria protist Plasmodium falciparum, and the genetic ties between sickle cell anemia and malaria resistance. For best understanding, students need a prerequisite knowledge of the immune system, parasitic relationships, genes, DNA and proteins.


These lessons would be best used in an advanced or AP Biology class setting. 


Lesson 1.A-1: Antigen Switching in Malaria


Lesson 1.A-2: Immunity Meets Invasion


Lesson 1.A-3: Genetic Variation and the Malaria-Sickle Cell Link




Ask students:


  • Based on the activities we've done in class, how can antigenic variation be useful to the Plasmodium parasite?


  • What are some of the host immune mechanisms we have against parasites? What are some of the ways that the Plasmodium parasite evades these mechanisms?


  • Explain why many apparently harmful genetic variations have been maintained in some populations.  Use a specific example of this.
~2-3 class periods  BIG IDEA 2:  The Impacts of Malaria Infection

In these lessons, students will develop an understanding of the social and economic impacts of malaria infection around the world.


Lesson 2-2 has two pathways (Option A or Option B), both of which involve student groups exploring case studies and then sharing out as a class. Teachers can look over each and choose the one that they prefer for their class.

Lesson 2-1: The Human and Social Crisis of Malaria; Class Reading & Discussion 

Lesson 2-2 (Option A): Malaria Case Studies  


Lesson 2-2 (Option B): Malaria Town Hall Meeting




Ask students:


  • Compose a one paragraph journal entry on one issue brought up in the case studies that touched or impacted you the most.


~3 class periods  BIG IDEA 3: The Fight Against Malaria

In these lessons, students will examine the many fronts on which malaria is being fought today, including the battle against the mosquito vector (Deadly Messengers), and what is being done to help vaccinate against malaria and the challenges faced by researchers.


Lessons 3-3 through 3-5 are less specific to malaria but instead offer useful insight for students who may not have prerequisite knowledge of the history, development and function of vaccines. These ideas scaffold a full understanding of the challenges in creating a malaria vaccine. 


Lesson 3-1: Deadly Messengers Elicitation










Lesson 3-2: Deadly Messengers, cont'd. 


Lesson 3-3: How Vaccines Work


Lesson 3-4: Viruses and Evolution


Lesson 3-5: The Scientific Method in Vaccine History


Lesson 3-6: TED TALKS & The Elusive Malaria Vaccine


Ask students:


  • Why isn't just spraying and killing all of the mosquitoes a simple solution to the problem of malaria?


  • Why do mosquitoes matter from an ecological perspective? 


  • What is a vaccine and how does it work? 


  • What are some of the major problems being faced in the development of a malaria vaccine? 
TBD by Instructor  BIG IDEA 4: Action Project

For this activity, students will work in groups of four and select either a method of malarial control OR an awareness/advocacy issue related to malaria.


They will create a poster that will be used for a classroom presentation and for use in educating the rest of the school community about health and development issues associated with malaria.


The posters should be created as if they are from a local organization requesting development funds or as if they are part of a larger education campaign to raise awareness about malaria-specific issues. An evaluation rubric has been included.

  Lesson 4-1: Action Project Posters 

Ask students:


  • How can you use your action project to make a difference in the fight against malaria?


  • How can your action project motivate your teachers and peers to become involved and take action?


Variable Extra Activities:

These three optional activities are found on YourGenome.org, and could be used in the science classroom or as lessons in a social studies course if a collaboration is possible throughout the project. Descriptions of the activities are as follows and all lesson materials can be downloaded at the links provided.


  1. Malaria Challenge: The Big Debate (Lesson EX-1)
    • What is the best way to eradicate malaria? In this activity, you will explore how the different stages of the malaria life cycle can be targeted by different treatments and prevention strategies.  

  2. Malaria Challenge:  Managing Malaria (Lesson EX-2)
    • Take on the role of a programme manager for a community at high risk of malaria and, using the information provided, work out the best strategy for eliminating the disease from the area. 

  3. Malaria Challenge: Funding Decisions (Lesson EX-3)
    • If you were given £20 million to eradicate malaria, how would you spend it? In this activity, you get to find out. 



Extra Activity Links:



Lesson EX-1: The Big Debate


Lesson EX-2: Managing Malaria


Lesson EX-3: Funding Decisions



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