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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans

AIDS, HIV, & Other Microbe Matters
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Extensions -- Additional Activities.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


Student Prerequisites:
Given the sensitive nature of some of the subject matter, such as sexual activity and illicit drug use, the teacher may wish to seek parental consent prior to doing this lesson in class.

If publishing a special Web page for your class isn't feasible, students will need a large sheet of butcher block paper and markers or crayons. Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

  • Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
  • Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
  • IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95 or higher.

For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.

The following sites should be bookmarked:

  • The AIDS Handbook

    Written by middle school students for middle school students, this handbook provides an introduction to AIDS, including its transmission, symptoms, treatment, and prevention. In addition, there's a special section on how the immune system fights disease. (

  • Infection Detection Protection

    This on-line magazine produced by the American Museum of Natural History handles a serious subject in a playful way. After students "meet the microbes," they can try a number of interactive challenges, including the Amazing Microbe Hunters quiz ( and the Infection! game (, where each player is a germ fighting the immune system.
    NOTE: The above Web activities require Shockwave 7. (If you don't have it, you can download it for free at

  • KidsHealth.Org - HIV and AIDS - Nemours Foundation question/aids.html?AIDS#first_hit

    Written by medical experts, this information sheet answers some basic questions about AIDS, such as how people contract this disease and steps people can take to avoid becoming infected. Also listed are some "800" numbers that provide related information and services.

  • Cells Alive

    This site offers colorful photos of a wide range of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. (Note: Some of the text may be too sophisticated for middle schoolers.)

  • The Names Project - AIDS Quilt

    This well-known project commemorates the lives of those who have died from AIDS and seeks an end to this epidemic. After viewing the original squares of the AIDS Quilt ( or the On-line Quilt Display, ( students may wish to create a panel of their own to submit to this monumental collaborative project. (


    Time Allotment:
    This lesson requires approximately three-four class periods.

    • Introduce the lesson to your class. Begin with a discussion about what "germs" are. Encourage students to think about products that tell consumers they kill germs (e.g., anti-bacterial soap, mouthwash). Ask students if they've heard of the term "microbes." Explain that "germs" is a common name for some "microbes," the smallest and oldest type of life on Earth. Even though you need a microscope to see them, there are microbes almost everywhere -- in the air, in the water, and in food. Ask students to guess, "What percent of microbes are dangerous to humans?" Record all guesses on the board. Afterward, explain that there are thousands of kinds of microbes in the world -- but less than 5% are actually harmful to people.

      Explain that during this lesson, students will learn more about how microbes can harm people and discover some simple steps they can take to avoid infection. For example, the simple act of washing your hands before you eat can dramatically reduce your chances of catching the flu.

    • Explain that during the next few class periods, they will investigate HIV, a kind of microbe that can cause AIDS. Some students will probably have some basic information about this disease; others will not. It is also likely that some students will believe some myths about the virus (e.g., the myth that the virus can be passed from one person to another through casual contact). To help students get answers to their pressing AIDS questions in a non-threatening way, hand out small pieces of paper to each student. Ask them to write down one or two questions they have about HIV or AIDS. Explain that they shouldn't write their name of the piece of paper -- it's anonymous. Then ask all students to fold their pieces of paper and put them in a hat or small box. Then, remove the pieces of paper from the hat or box one at a time and write down the questions on the board. Although there will probably be some duplication, the result will be a list of student-centered research questions that can serve as touchstones for the remainder of this lesson. If there are questions not addressed in this lesson's material, you and your students can probably find the answers via the AIDS information Web sites listed in the bookmark section.

    • After you have bookmarked the sites for this lesson, distribute the Research Log, in Organizers for Students. Students should add five questions listed on the board to their Research Logs. They should then try to answer these questions using the Web sites provided.

      ANSWER KEY to Research Log

      1. Name two ways that harmful microbes ("germs") can get inside the human body.
      • Germs can enter the body through infected food or water, contaminated blood, bites from infected creatures, and germ-filled air.

      2. After playing the Infection! game, list three ways that the body fights infection.
      • The body has two lines of defense against infection. The first line of defense against germs includes physical barriers, such as skin, mucous, tears, tiny nose hairs (cilia), bleeding, urinating, and sweating. The second line of defense is the immune system, where special cells called macrophages (white blood cells) consume and dissolve germs. Other cells called antibodies fight specific types of microbes.

      3. What are three things you can do to help keep your immune system strong so it can fight infection?
      • To help your immune system stay strong, you should get seven-eight hours of sleep every night, eat a variety of healthy foods, drink lots of water every day, and play outside to get exercise and fresh air.

      4. What are two ways that viruses are different from bacteria?
      • Although both viruses and bacteria are microbes, they are different in a number of ways. First, viruses are much smaller than bacteria. The Meet the Microbes Web site says that if a bacterium were as long as a school bus, a virus would only be as long as a worm. Second, viruses can't live on their own. In order to survive, they invade animal and plant cells and then reproduce rapidly.

      5. Are all microbes harmful to humans?
      • No, over 95% of microbes are harmless to humans. In fact, some kinds of bacteria are helpful to humans, such as the variety that live in our intestines and help us digest, and the bacteria that help clean our environment by eating chemical waste such as oil spills.

      6. What discovery made Anthony van Leeuwenhoek a well-known "microbe hunter"?
      • Anthony van Leeuwenhoek was the first human to see microbes. This man made microscopes as a hobby and in 1675 used one of his homemade microscopes to see microbes swimming in stagnant rain water.

      7. If you were a microbe scientist, what question would you want to find out?
      • Answers will vary.

      8. What's the difference between HIV and AIDS?
      • HIV is a type of virus that causes a medical condition called AIDS, which stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. This condition damages a person's immune system, so they have difficulty fighting off illnesses caused by various microbes. It is possible for a person to be infected with HIV but not have AIDS.

      9. How does the HIV virus affect the body's immune system?
      • HIV damages the immune system by destroying a kind of cell (T-cell) that makes chemicals that fight infection.

      10. How can people keep from getting AIDS?
      • Contrary to misinformation, AIDS is not spread through hugging, kissing, or holding hands. AIDS is spread when germs from inside an infected person get inside another person's body. This can happen in three main ways: sexual intercourse, sharing of infected needles while injecting drugs, and when an infected mother gives birth.

      11-15 Answers may vary.

    • Break students into collaborative groups. Tell them that their task is to take all the information they learned about AIDS and create a presentation to help share what they've learned with other students. This presentation can be done in a variety of ways:
      • a Web page -- to be posted on the school's Web site. To help you put together a multimedia presentation, you may wish to use a program such as Claris. See wNetSchool's Claris Homepage Overview for help using this program.
      • a magazine -- to be distributed to other students as a resource.
      • a mural -- to be displayed in a public location, such as the library or the school cafeteria.

    • The Names Project - AIDS Quilt ( was created to commemorate the thousands of lives that have been lost, and to seek an end to this epidemic. There are many pieces of the AIDS Quilt scattered throughout the world, but there's one place where all the panels can be seen -- the Internet. After viewing the original squares of the AIDS Quilt ( or the On-line Quilt Display (, students can create a panel of their own, and submit it to this monumental collaborative project. (


    For a collection of creative suggestions for addressing AIDS across the curriculum, read the following article. It would be a valuable resource for helping to plan an AIDS Awareness Day event at your school.

    HIV/AIDS Education Isn't Only for Health Class!


    One Computer in the Classroom
    If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your class into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc., from the library for the group doing paper research. When the groups have finished working, have them switch places.

    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can do Internet research together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen, go to the relevant Web site(s), and review the information presented there. You can also select a search engine page and allow your students to suggest the search criteria. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

    Several Computers in the Classroom
    Divide your class into small groups. Groups can do Internet research using pages you have bookmarked. Group members should take turns navigating the bookmarked site.

    You can also set the class up so that each computer is dedicated to certain sites. Students will then move around the classroom, getting different information from each station.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web-based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students