Dec 03, 2014
James Davis went into Mrs. Mall-John’s Living Environment (biology) class, to help her students learn about the concepts of antibiotic resistance and gain an appreciation of programming.
Prior to the lesson setup should start on https://community.csdt.rpi.edu/projects/317/ & group the students so that everyone knows where their computer is. Give an overview of the basic concepts:
- Single celled organism
- Found everywhere
- CAN make you ill, though some are good
- Bacterial infection used to cause a lot of deaths until 1928
- Ask why they don’t need to worry about antibiotics (medicines like antibiotics)
- What antibiotics do
- Why they are so important
- So then, if there is no problem, why are scientists so worried?
- Bacteria mutate and change
- What is a mutation?
- Not all mutations go one way or another
- But then you select for only the ones that can survive
- If you select only bacteria that can survive antibiotics better then antibiotics become less effective
- Let’s take a look
Press 1 to start, press space to release antibiotics, the longer it takes you to kill the bacteria the more you’ve selected the resistant bugs. It takes about 5 minutes for everyone to be on the same page. Ask why the bacteria always win? Ask what they can do about it. (increase the strength, reduce the time, increase the dosage), show them exactly where this is and how to change it. Give them 10 minutes to play and make it harder for the bacteria to win. Someone will notice that you can’t take too many doses at once or the bacteria win (you overdosed… you don’t want to encourage over consumption).
Bring the discussion back to their role in preventing antibiotic resistance don’t over consume, take the recommended amount, don’t take when not needed, and don’t share. For this group, we also made a plug to come to after school and Monday lessons.
The class was structured into 5 groups of 4 students. 3/5 groups were engaged through the entire session. One group was engaged but uninterested in returning to conversation after the simulation. The final group was disengaged after trying out the simulation. The students seemed well informed on the topics of genetics and bacteria, but uninformed about antibiotics and resistance (which is indeed on the regents exam) – but now seem to have a better grasp of the latter. The lack of a strong competitive element, and difficulty giving everyone a turn on the simulation made the lesson less fun and less effective.
CHANGES & THE NEXT LESSON
The simulation would be better if it started off more challenging, provided a competitive element, and put students into the perspective of the humans (instead of the bacteria). A stronger social justice connection and superior cultural connection would make future lessons more in line with program goals. The next lesson is still in progress.