A few times each week I put a news story on the board for students to read as they enter class. This is the equivalent of a bell activity in other classrooms. The news is always science related and current. Unfortunately, the last few years have seen a dramatic decline in the available news stories through the source I almost always use (and frankly, I’m too lazy and skeptical to find a new one). However, this week was an exception.
This week saw extreme weather events worth talking about. The flooding of the Arkansas River and the record-breaking tornado series were on the board and discussed on Tuesday. As I talked about them, I showed the students where the events took place on the map and put a pin in our world map to commemorate this news story (my subtle way to increasing our geography skills). On Wednesday, I tried to find a follow-up to the tornado spree and could not find anything. But, I digress.
The news that I found and shared that had the students silent was about the Ebola outbreak in the Congo. I am not sure why this is not talked about more but it is worth talking about in the classroom. The Ebola outbreak started in August and has already claimed over 1200 lives. What makes this most scary, at least to me, is the reaction of some of the people in the Congo to the medical community working to help the victims. This is an incredibly complicated situation.
The deadliest Ebola outbreak began in 2014. In three years, this virus traversed the world and claimed 11,000 lives. For me, the reality of the last outbreak makes the current outbreak that much more concerning. I wonder if those memories and the associated fear contributed to today’s silence in the classroom as we talked about the current outbreak. I know it has my attention
Here’s another interesting piece I found this week. Some Ebola survivors from the 2014 outbreak transmitted the virus to others even after they were “cured”. The virus persisted in their bodily fluids for months after their recovery and was transmitted to others that became infected and most did not survive. This is alarming. It does not appear to persist in all survivors, but the occurrences beg for further research and education of the survivors.
My AP Biology students and I found a research article about this phenomena. The content interested all of us and allowed an opportunity for us to work on dissecting research articles (one of my personal, essential goals for the students in this class). Being able to relate this research article to a current event enabled the students to connect to the material in a more substantial way. Diseases intrigue me and being able to incorporate them into my classroom increases my energy, which in turn hopefully increases my students’ learning. I hope that doesn’t sound too morbid 🙂