In an effort to teach students the best ways to stay healthy, the elementary STEM teachers have provided engaging programs to teach students how easily germs are spread and what students can do to mitigate the transmission. This lesson actually started prior to the current coronavirus pandemic, and proved to provide students with valuable knowledge on how a virus can spread. Mt. Comfort Elementary (MCE) STEM Teacher, Amy Lovell, Fortville Elementary School (FES) STEM Teacher, Kathy Tingwald, and McCordsville Elementary School (MES) STEM teacher, Fred Bays, have been teaching their students about the different ways that germs can spread around their schools.
Before spring break, Ms. Lovell’s class engaged in multiple interactive activities for students to understand how germs spread. One activity included using Glo Germ Powder as the “germs” and a black light to show where the “germs” spread. For example, one student was given the Glo Germ Powder and then the class played a game of “Heads Up, Seven Up.” At the end of the game, Ms. Lovell used a blacklight to reveal everywhere the germs had spread from just one individual originally having the “germs.” Students were wide-eyed and amazed as most all students had evidence of the “germs” on their hands and face!
Next, Lovell used the black light to reveal how well the students were washing their hands. After washing their hands with soap and water, the blacklight revealed where the “germs” (Glo Germ Powder) still resided. The students learned how to effectively clean the areas where the germs are most prominent, such as their nails and cuticles.
Lastly, the fifth grade class did an activity where they were given a fictional scenario that included a list of students at a school and their symptoms. The students were supposed to trace back the start of an illness that was spreading around the fictional school and figure out what could have been done to prevent it.
Mrs. Tingwald at FES has also been leading similar activities with her fifth grade STEM classes. FES fifth grade students participated in hand washing experiments by trying to determine the most efficient ways to wash their hands. The students identified the different variables of the experiment and conducted changes to the experiment on their own. They changed different variables such as: the type of soap, the length of time spent washing their hands, etc.
Mrs. Tingwald also brought in the Infection Specialist at Hancock Health to teach strategies for infection control, germs, viruses, and the importance of their immune systems. Students then worked on a “Mystery (pretend) Illness” to figure out where the infection began in school, similar to MCE’s school experiment.
Mr. Bays at MES has also done this activity with his fifth graders, making this special lesson a district-wide activity for all fifth grade students. Similar activities were completed with his students, including a lesson on the importance of proper hand-washing techniques. Mr. Bays shared that the “Mystery Illness” activity with MES fifth graders to help them understand how a virus starts and how it spreads was a big hit.
These hands-on activities help teach students that the best way to protect themselves and the people around them from the continuous spread of germs is by using good health hygiene.