Parasite Predicament is an activity developed by Learning Undefeated to explore the prevalence and effects of malaria worldwide.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes. About 3.2 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria. Young children, pregnant women and non-immune travelers from malaria-free areas are particularly vulnerable to the disease when they become infected.
Malaria is preventable and curable, and increased efforts are dramatically reducing the malaria burden in many places. Between 2000 and 2015, the rate of new cases (malaria incidence) fell by 37% globally. In that same period, malaria death rates fell by 60% globally among all age groups, and by 65% among children under five. Sub-Saharan Africa carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2015, the region was home to 89% of malaria cases and 91% of malaria deaths.
Below are pre laboratory engagement and post laboratory extension activity suggestions that teachers may use in their classrooms as they see fit. Students who participate in the companion laboratory activity onboard the mobile lab will learn how to complete an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in order to determine whether or not their patient has contracted the malaria parasite.
Students will be able to
- Students will construct scientific explanations that predict patterns between malaria and Sickle Cell Disease
- Students will develop and use a model to describe the life cycle of the Plasmodium parasite
- Students will conduct an investigation to detect the presence of the Plasmodium parasite
- Students will develop and use a model to explain how an ELISA test can detect the presence of the Plasmodium parasite
Next Generation Science Standards Connections
HS-LS1-2: Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms
HS-LS2-8: Evaluate evidence for the role of group behavior on individual species’ chances to survive and reproduce
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Science Connections
BIOL.9(A): Compare the functions of different types of biomolecules, including carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids
BIOL.10(A): Describe the interactions that occur among systems that perform the functions of regulation, nutrient absorption, reproduction, and defense from injury or illness in animals
BIOL.12(A): Interpret relationships, including predation, parasitism, commensalism, mutualism, and competition, among organisms
Activities to Gather Evidence
HHMI Biointeractive video Learn about the link between sickle cell trait and malaria.
Malaria ATLAS Project Learn up-to-date information on malaria and associated topics.
World Health Organization (WHO) Explore key interventions to control malaria
Life cycle of malaria video Learn about the life cycle of the malaria parasite in the human body
An introduction to malaria A curriculum resource for secondary teachers from UNICEF
Where Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes Will Go In The Future A chart showing expected mosquito habitat through 2080
Watch an ELISA