“I simply feel that this is my responsibility as a science teacher and chair of the Science Department to inform, address, and reassure students that knowledge about this virus is power for our future health and wellbeing,” said Jacqueline O’Gorman, as she explained the concept behind the recent work module for her Human Anatomy and Physiology students.
Typically, this time of the year in Mrs. O’Gorman’s HAP class, the coursework shifts to revolve around dissections, as students have gained all of the proper knowledge of various tissues and organs, but with Stay-at-Home Orders in effect and Hun Virtual School in full swing, this was no longer a possibility.
Instead, Mrs. O’Gorman acknowledged the correlation between the novel coronavirus and her students’ limited understanding of the lymphatic system and drew on the opportunity to address both issues in her virtual classroom.
“I wanted to do my due diligence to further their understanding of what happens in the body when a pathogen such as a bacterium or virus enters,” she said. “I know our students learn about the evolution and classification of bacteria in Biology courses, but I wanted to further their knowledge so that they could understand the science behind this contagion known as COVID-19.”
But Mrs. O’Gorman knew that the evolving virus and subject matter could potentially be difficult for students to grasp, so she set out to create a work module that would not only catch her students’ attention, but also give them the opportunity to share their knowledge with others. So, she tasked them with the assignment of creating a children’s book that would further explain the Lymphatic system and how our immune system responds to viruses and bacterial infections.
“I wanted my students to create something that would make sense to children especially during these unclear times,” she said. “Many young children have no idea why we are staying at home, isolating, and wearing masks and washing our hands so much. The purpose of this assignment for me was to find a way for my students to pay attention to what is going on in the world today through their own research and news watching, as they followed the course and continuing evolution of this virus.”
Mrs. O’Gorman explained that her students were certainly hesitant at first, and were unsure how they could take their extensive knowledge of the Lymphatic system and translate it to a children’s book, but with a little brainstorming, their creativity flourished.
“We did brainstorming which helped provide students with an angle and an approach,” she said. “Maybe it would be a battle. Maybe villains and superheroes would be involved, or a game of some sort, complete with an offense, defense, and second string. Once they figured out their angle, the rest came so easily; and with a little fun they all were able to create something that they would be proud to share with others.”
And as the children’s books came funneling in, with topics ranging from spinoffs of Spongebob to The Magic School Bus, Mrs. O’Gorman was beyond impressed with her HAP students’ work and in the end, she is thankful for what the current situation was able to provide by way of a real-world learning experience for her students.
“If we were on campus, I’m not sure I would have introduced the lesson this way for my anatomy class but I’m thankful I did,” she explained. “The fact that my students speak regularly about what is going on in the world is so important to me. This is science in its purest form. The students were incredibly receptive and understood the importance of the lesson, and because they were so understanding, I was able to address this subject matter with ease.”