Malaria & Global Warming

Dale Blum, Pierce College

Summary

This group exercise is designed for students in a non-majors introductory biology course. By the end of this exercise students, in groups, will have produced concept maps that show the many factors and their interconnections that result in the distribution of malaria. They will also make a map that predicts a possible future distribution of malaria in North and South America based on information and an understanding of several biological concepts such as host-parasite interactions, evolution of antibiotic and pesticide resistance, physical factors such as global warming and socioeconomic factors, such as access to drugs.

Learning Goals

Students will make a map that predicts a possible future distribution of malaria in North and South America based on information and an understanding of several biological concepts such as host-parasite interactions, evolution of antibiotic and pesticide resistance, physical factors such as global warming and socioeconomic factors, such as access to drugs.

Sustainability Skills

Critical Thinking: analyze and synthesize data.
Effective Communication: group interaction and oral communication.

"Big Ideas" in Biology / Sustainability

Interconnectedness in biology: Host-microbe interactions and Microevolution.
Connections between socioeconomics factors, climate change, disease, and health.
Leaving students with hope and an action plan to influence the future.

(Please see specific outcomes and details under each day's plans.)

Context for Use

This group exercise is designed for students in a non-majors introductory biology course. By the end of this exercise students, in groups, will have produced concept maps that show the many factors and their interconnections that result in the distribution of malaria.

This activity will require at least two, one to two hour sessions for student work. This activity will work best towards the end of the term since students at that point should have been introduced to some biological concepts such as life cycles and interdependence that will enable students to understand details easier and now focus on the sustainability concepts. Students should also have practiced making concept maps before of this activity.

With a switch on emphasis this curriculum can be modified for an ethics course (especially bioethics) sociology or economics. Also this curriculum would work well for a microbiology course.

Description and Teaching Materials

Pre-Day 1

Students should already be acquainted with and practiced making concept maps. For information on concept maps I recommend watching the PowerPoint Presentation at http://depts.washington.edu/biology/hhmi/conceptmaps/

For an excellent, simple handout on concept maps I recommend the following website: http://www.udel.edu/chem/white/teaching/ConceptMap.html

Day 1: Outcomes, Plan and Assessments

Outcomes: Students will demonstrate their understanding of the interconnectedness of the multiple factors (biological, socioeconomic and physical) that affect the distribution of malaria by making a concept map. Students will demonstrate their ability to effectively work and communicate in groups

Plan: The project will be introduced to the whole class with a brief overview of malaria. Suggested introduction would be to watch the first two sections of the PBS video "RX for Survival on Malaria". (The third and last section will be saved to show at the end of the second day.) An alternative would be for the instructor to introduce the subject by reading a brief description. An overview of the complete project and outcomes for each session should also be presented.

Class should be divided into groups of four to six students.

Each group will be given instructions for that day's exercise. (See Day 1 Group Exercise instructions below.)

Each group will be given a set of handouts including:
  • Brief description of malaria including symptoms, mortality rates and susceptibility
  • Diagram and description of the life cycle of the causative agents
  • Information on the environmental requirements for the mosquito vector
  • Map of the distribution of the Anopheles mosquito
  • Information on pesticides and pesticide resistance, particularly DDT
  • Information on global warming
  • Information on anti-malarial drugs, availability and drug resistance
  • Information on mosquito nets
Students should be told to read the handouts as a group, individual members of the group read and pass that information to the rest of the group. (See References and Resources and Teaching Notes and Tips for sites to obtain this information)

Groups will be given a large piece of construction paper and will work together to produce a concept map.

Optional Handouts:Each group can then be given cards with terms on them that they will use to make their concept map along with some blank cards so that they can add terms. Alternatively students can be given blank cards and told to come up with the terms for the concept maps themselves.

Some Possible Terms for Cards:
  • Plasmodium sp.
  • Anopheles Mosquito
  • Pesticides
  • Pesticide Resistance
  • Anti-malarial drugs
  • Drug Resistance
  • Vaccine
  • Global Warming
  • Poverty
  • Increase irrigation/standing water
  • Deforestation
  • Mosquito netting
Each group should copy their completed maps onto a transparency or use a digital camera to record their concept map.

Assessments:
Participation in the group activities (informal assessment)
Concept Maps (informal assessment; if you prefer a formal assessment please see the PowerPoint Presentation at http://depts.washington.edu/biology/hhmi/conceptmaps/

Day 2: Outcomes, Plan and Assessments


Outcomes:Students will demonstrate their ability to use critical thinking skills, especially their "ability to cope with complexity" to predict, map and justify their belief of where they believe malaria will be found in 50 years in North and South America.

Students will demonstrate their ability to work effectively in groups

Students will demonstrate their ability to effectively communicate their ideas by giving a three minute presentation to the class explaining their assumptions and justifying their map.

Plan: Each group will be given instructions, a table to be filled in, and a map of North and South America (See Day 2 Instructions and Table and Day 2 Exercise Map in the Attachment section)

The same handouts that students had during the previous session will be handed back to each group. The group will also have the concept map it made in the previous session.

Each group will fill in the table that asks them to describe the factors that affect malaria distribution and spread and to predict if and how these will change in 50 years. They will use their concept map as a beginning for filling in this table. Each group will then use the information from that table to make a map showing their predictions for where malaria will be found in 50 years. Students are allowed to re-work their concept maps.

Each group will report out on their map and justify their decision-making.

Students will be given an open- book assignment/quiz that is to be done individually at home.

The period will end with a short video on malaria, possibly the last short segment on "RX for Survival-Malaria" and an instructor led brief discussion to cover any topics not already mentioned by students. The discussion should focus on what students can do. Instructor can also mention the movement of other tropical and subtropical disease.

Assessments:
  • Participation in the group activities (informal assessment)
  • Completion of the table that lists factors and predictions (see Assessment: Grading Rubric for Day 2 -Table for suggestions)
  • Completion of the geographic map (informal assessment)
  • Individual open-book take-home quiz/assignment (see below: Take-Home Quiz for suggestions)


Day 1 Group Exercise (Microsoft Word 25kB Oct26 11)
Day 2 Group Exercise (Microsoft Word 200kB Oct26 11)
Take-Home Quiz (Microsoft Word 28kB Oct26 11)


Teaching Notes and Tips

The sites mentioned above have all the information that is needed for the students' handouts including symptoms of the disease, the Plasmodium life cycle, information on the habitat requirements for the mosquito host and vector, current distribution of malaria, drugs and drug resistance etc. I did find several handouts that, while not necessary for the student to understand the distribution of the disease, I thought were very interesting. One is a Time Magazine article from 1958 "The War on Anopheles" that shows just how long and difficult the fight has been. Another article that was pertinent when this was taught in spring 2008 was information for travelers about a recent outbreak in the Bahamas. Web sites for this information are below:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,868200,00.html
http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentMalariaBahamas07.aspx

This curriculum was designed for a non-majors biology course using two (2 hour) laboratory sessions. Because of an emergency and lack of time the class only did Day 1 of the project. Day 1, i.e., doing the readings and making the concept map worked well in a one, two-hour laboratory session. Groups of students were given a small package of readings and note cards with the terms listed above They were able to finish making concept maps and share their results. The second day, i.e., making predictions and mapping their predictions, would probably have been very helpful since it would have allowed students time to solidify their understanding and further discuss interconnectedness.

If students have access to a computer lab where they can work in groups, it would be possible to just give specific websites and save the printing of the paper. Another option would to add another session and let the students find the information themselves.

Assessment

Assessments:

Participation in the group activities (informal assessment)
Completion of the table that lists factors and predictions;
Completion of the geographic map (informal assessment)
Individual open-book take-home quiz/assignment.

Day 1 Assessments:

Participation in the group activities (informal assessment)
Concept Maps (informal assessment; if you prefer a formal assessment please see the PowerPoint Presentation at http://depts.washington.edu/biology/hhmi/conceptmaps/

Grading Rubric for the Table:
Day 2 Exercise


Emerging:
Students can state factors that affect the distribution of malaria but they are not able to explain how and why it affects the distribution of malaria.

Developing:
Students are able to state at least three factors that affect malaria distribution. They understand how these factors affect the spread of malaria and are able to justify their predictions of how these factors may change in the future.

Competent:
Students are able to state at least five factors including one example each of a biological, socioeconomic and physical factor that affects malaria distribution. They are able to justify predictions and understand how they will affect the spread of malaria.

Strong:
Students are able to state at least seven factors including one example each of a biological, socioeconomic and physical factor that affects malaria distribution. They are able to justify predictions and understand how they will affect the spread of malaria.


Examples of Biological Factors:
Distribution of Plasmodium
Distribution of Anopheles mosquito
Density of the human population
Evolution of pesticide resistance by Anopheles mosquito
Evolution of drug resistance by Plasmodium

Examples of Socioeconomic Factors:
Access to anti-malarial drugs
Access to effective anti-malarial drugs
Development of an effective vaccine
Access to that vaccine
Access to mosquitoes
Increased Irrigation /farming with standing water
Use of effective pesticide mosquito netting
Use of effective pesticide
Deforestation
Increased irrigation/farming with standing water

Examples of Physical Factors:
Global Warming
Deforestation

References and Resources

There is no lack on information on malaria or organizations that promote involvement I will list several below.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/rxforsurvival/series/diseases/malaria.html
(this has three short videos that can be played to introduce and help end the assignment with a "creative and positive vision of the future")
http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/
http://malariasite.com/malaria
http://www.nothingbutnets.net/learn/what-is-malaria/
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,868200,00.html
http://www.rollbackmalaria.org/

There is also no lack of information (or opinions) on global warming the following website shows a map that shows temperature increases in the future.
http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Global_Warming_Predictions_Map_jpg

For concept mapping:
http://depts.washington.edu/biology/hhmi/conceptmaps/
http://www.udel.edu/chem/white/teaching/ConceptMap.html

Evergreen State College