Lesson Ideas

Six Scientific Articles about Immunity for Middle and High School Students

None of your students enjoy being sick, but do they understand how they acquire immunity to infections and diseases? We’ve collected six articles that can support you in teaching them about the immune system, antibodies, and vaccinations

They’re in order of increasing reading level with notes about the types of data figures as well; each article is also accompanied by at least one video to introduce the topic and questions to check students’ understanding after reading.

How Can We Keep the World Free of Measles?

While measles is already very uncommon in countries with strong health care due to widespread vaccination among young people, that isn’t the case everywhere: vaccination programs in some countries have improved immunity enough to reduce the number of cases but failed to prevent tens of thousands of child deaths. In this article, mathematical models were used to study how well different vaccination programs might work at preventing measles from spreading through a country. The results show that under the right conditions, it can be possible to keep measles away for good – and herd immunity plays an important role.

This adaptation is suitable for a middle school or lower high school reading level and includes both a map and a scatter plot.

To Be Vaccinated or Not—How does the Internet Influence a Pregnant Woman’s Decision?

The Internet has become an important source of medical information for people today. This adaptation examines the impact of online media on the opinions of pregnant women and healthcare providers about two maternal vaccines: whooping cough (pertussis) and the flu (influenza). Most pertussis articles used real-life cases and focused on protecting the baby, while influenza articles focused on protecting the mother, or both the mother and the baby. The survey results show that both pregnant women and healthcare providers’ opinions expressed similar opinions to those of the articles, which may explain why more women are choosing to be vaccinated against pertussis than influenza.

This adaptation is suitable for a middle school or lower high school reading level and includes both a data table and bar graph.

How to Prevent Rabies in India?

Many countries in Asia and Africa struggle to prevent this deadly disease, which is usually transmitted to humans when they are bitten by a rabid dog. This study used a computer model that showed that vaccinating dogs against rabies in India would make it possible to control the disease in both dogs and humans, and further, that it is a cost-efficient method in comparison to the ways rabies is currently prevented and treated there.

This adaptation is suitable for a middle school or lower high school reading level and presents data in a bar graph.

How Can We Control HIV Worldwide?

About half of the people living with HIV worldwide are not getting the treatment they need; millions of people die from HIV-related infections every year because of how the virus weakens the immune system. This study used a computer model to look at two possibilities for reducing HIV: providing treatment to more people and giving people a vaccine (currently being developed by researchers) that protects them from getting the virus in the first place. The results show that providing treatment to more people living with HIV will save a lot of lives, but giving a preventative vaccine could move the world towards getting rid of HIV forever.

This adaptation is suitable for a lower high school reading level and presents information in a pictograph and a bar graph.

How Can We Better Prevent Polio?

The polio vaccine is an effective preventative measure against this potentially deadly disease, but the current two-shot vaccination is difficult to achieve in developing countries, where healthcare workers have trouble reaching their patients more than once. This article follows the experiments of scientists trying to develop a vaccine that requires only one injection, using safe compounds to mimic the current 2-shot schedule and stabilize the vaccine. The resulting immune responses among rats are promising, and hopefully, this approach will help with the development of vaccines against other infectious diseases as well.

This adaptation is suitable for both lower and upper high school reading levels and presents the results in time-series graphs.

How Can We Outsmart Zika Virus?

The mosquito-transmitted Zika virus, which when it infects pregnant women can cause neurological defects such as microcephaly in their unborn children, currently has no cure or vaccine. It is hard to develop a vaccine because of a special feature of this virus and its close relatives called antibody-dependent enhancement. That’s why the scientists in this article decided to try a new approach, focused on introducing “ready-to-go” antibodies that could neutralize the infection. They identified antibodies in a patient with a natural, strong immune response against Zika virus and produced them in the lab before giving both purified antibodies and Zika virus to four macaque monkeys. Encouragingly, they found no trace of the virus in the antibody-treated macaques.

This adaptation is suitable for both lower and upper high school reading levels, and data is presented in line graph and timeseries graph format.

That’s Not All!

Visit this page for more information about using our adaptations and accompanying resources as teaching tools. We’d love to hear from you! Connect with us through any of the channels at the bottom of this page to share your own experience with using Science Journal for Kids in the classroom.

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