I learned a new word with this unit: A zoonosis is any disease or infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans. Zoonoses would be the plural!
We had such a good experience with the CDC Science Ambassador unit on the West Nile Virus that we decided to try one more unit: Healthy Pets, Healthy People (Note: Look on the second set of tabs for “Zoonotic Disease”). Besides with the way my kids love animals, we couldn’t go wrong with a pet unit!! We downloaded both of their units (Pets and People and What is Wrong with My Pet? — An Introduction to Zoonoses) and used elements of both for our own studies.
I took their suggestions and then made some worksheets for the kids since my kids are a bit younger than the target age (middle schoolers).
On the first day, the kids filled out a sheet about their favorite pet. They had to think about how they would interact with their pets over the course of a day or week. Even ED was VERY excited about this and so she talked about her answers while I wrote down what she said.
On the second day, I brought out a few “pets for sale” at the local pet shop. They could look and admire the pets while the kids filled out a sheet on the pros and cons of owning a pet:
Meanwhile, LD had a secret spy job. He had to watch and see how many times the girls touched the animals and then touched some part of their face. He kept a secret count. It turns out one of the girls touched her face about 15 times and the other touched hers more than 25 times!
We learned about how many people in the U.S. own pets. I had the kids use a online graphing tool at NCES.ed.gov to create a graph of the number of households that own pets (LD did this one):
and the number of pets owned in the U.S. (DD typed in all the data and created this graph):
**Funny enough, I wasn’t able to access the file to include this graph — “Due to a lapse of appropriations and the partial shutdown of the Federal Government, the systems that host nces.ed.gov have been shut down. Services will be restored as soon as a continuing resolution to provide funding has been enacted.”
Oh well, you’ll have to take my word that DD did a really nice job on her pie graph!! There are 145 million freshwater fish pets… followed by 95 million cats and 85 million dogs in America.
The kids then chose a disease, researched it and found out what it does to the pets, the treatment for pets, how it is transmitted to humans and how to treat it. DD chose rabies and you’d be amazed at the number of references to rabies we’ve run across the past week or so. For example, she was petting at someone’s dog and saw the rabies tag. “Mom!! This dog has rabies!!!” she practically shouted. I explained that the dog had been vaccinated against rabies!!
The last part of this unit, was that the kids took several of the pet problem cards, read what was going on with their pet (one dog was dragging it’s bottom across the floor…), and they had to figure out what illness the pet had (worms, in this case) and how to treat it. I let the kids use some of the reference sheets from the downloadable packets and crossed out some of the references (that’s why there are all those black dots on the sheets):
The Pet Problem cards you see in the photo above are at the are part of the CDC Science Ambassador Unit: Pets and People.
If you are interested you can download the sheets I made for the kids to go along with these free units:
Visit more of the free CDC Science Ambassador Units (for middle school and high school)
Related Post: Free CDC Lesson Plans Grades 4-8: Science Ambassador Program and our unit on the West Nile Virus