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Cavs Discover Biology to be Infectious

Kassandra Rojas, Elizabeth Warren, and Emily Weisberg, all sophomore Honors Biology students, observe bacteria growing from samples taken from around the school.

“As part of our unit on human pathogens, I wanted to help students gain perspective about bacteria and viruses that are prevalent in other countries, but are ones that we don't worry as much about here,” said Biology teacher Mrs. Maya Schultz, discussing the recent unit her classes have been working on. “Students learned about drug resistant tuberculosis in South America, HIV in African countries, and polio in India. They also learned about small pox and how the vaccination effort helped to eradicate this disease from the world. Students were shown video clips of patients with these diseases to help them understand the important role vaccines and other medicines play in protecting us.”

As part of the unit, students completed a lab in which they sampled bacteria from around their environment. They learned that antibiotics can work to beat back bacterial infections, but that many bacteria are developing immunity to these drugs. They were able to see this themselves by dropping disks soaked in different antibiotics on to bacteria to see which drugs are best at killing.

“I was surprised by how much bacteria was in our school. We took samples from Mrs. Schultz’s computer mouse and from the water fountain in the hall,” said Elizabeth Warren, sophomore.

Sophomore Kassandra Rojas said, “I found that where you would think had the most bacteria actually didn’t – like the bottoms of the cafeteria tables. The doors to the school parking lot had a lot more bacteria!”

“I learned that bacteria, germs, and viruses are everywhere. I will probably wipe down things more with Lysol wipes and wash my hands more frequently! It’s scary to think about!” said sophomore Emily Weisberg.

According to Mrs. Schultz, items that get touched frequently but are rarely cleaned, such as door handles, computer keyboards, and cell phones, have the most bacteria. Locations that people may think are full of bacteria, such as restrooms, actually aren’t that bad because they get cleaned and disinfected frequently.

“Through these lessons, I hope to impart to students that bacterial and viral infections are of global importance. I want students to see that children in other countries have very different health experiences than we do here. In addition, because of transportation advances, you can't think that health issues in one country will stay within that country's borders. It's so easy these days to get on a plane and travel to other places bringing viruses and bacteria with you. Continuing vaccine development and antibiotic development is important not just to help fight diseases in our country, but also to help fight diseases in other countries as well,” concluded Mrs. Schultz.

Written by: Maya Schultz and Paula White
Posted: Jan 03, 2013 by Paula White

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