November 5, 2014. Roswell, GA. The Holcomb Bridge Middle School (HBMS) 7th grade class recently concluded an integrative study on the Ebola virus with a field trip to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Museum and Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta. Teachers worked hard to deliver a relevant and rigorous set of cross-curricular lessons for the students, using the current events around Ebola as a platform to make it real.
Led by a teaching team of Pam Wright (language arts), Dwayne Gregory (social studies), Melanie McCollum (science) and Alexis Farmer (math), the students engaged in an intense and carefully coordinated set of lessons. In language arts, students read the non-fiction book The Hot Zone by Richard Preston; in social studies, students explored Africa and wrote a position paper on the history of health issues and the influence of government and politics on diseases like AIDS and Ebola. Science activities included creating public health posters on Ebola, simulating how viruses can spread, and completing contact tracing to determine the source of the virus outbreaks. Math classes examined similarities and differences between viruses and bacteria and how they affect living cells.
The segment concluded with a field trip to the museum at the CDC1 where several students tried on hazmat suits, learned the steps for preventing contamination, and explored the history of the CDC and the role it plays in today’s world. In parallel, students were also able to visit the Fernbank Natural History museum.
“People of any age learn better when the subject is relevant to their lives, and they understand how it affects them personally,” said Pam Wright. “By weaving the topic through all core courses, we hoped to provide a learning opportunity that will have a lasting impact on our students.”
According to one student, the objective was accomplished. “It was really interesting learning about Ebola in a lot of different ways, such as using hands-on science experiments, in addition to reading the book. And, we were pretty fortunate to go to the CDC museum when this is such an important issue we’re facing.” Principal Chris Shearer agreed. “Since coming to HBMS this year, I have been very impressed with the passion, creativity and enthusiasm of our teachers. Our teaching team led this cross-curricular segment from ideation through execution. I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.”
Holcomb Bridge Middle School—a school of global classrooms—is located at 2700 Holcomb Bridge Road, Alpharetta, GA. The school has received numerous distinctions, including the prestigious designation of Georgia National Lighthouse School to Watch for being a high-performing school that is academically excellent, developmentally responsive and socially equitable. Holcomb Bridge is also a Georgia School of Excellence and a Distinguished Title I School.
1The CDC museum is located at a campus some distance from the actual CDC lab facilities and Emory hospital, where Ebola patients have received treatment.
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