Attack of the giant viruses

Attack of the giant virusesScientists have discovered a giant 30 000 year old virus still alive under the permafrost. As the world warms, others will be uncovered. Could such an ancient virus wipe out the human race? In this activity, learn how to interrogate sources to separate science fact from fiction.

Learning objectives

  • Apply knowledge of microorganisms to check the facts in a newspaper report.
  • Evaluate how trustworthy scientific reports are in the media.

Try the activity

Curriculum link

England National Curriculum KS3:

  • Working Scientifically: Interrogate media reports to evaluate how trustworthy they are.
  • Biology: Cells and organisation.

GCSE Combined Science subject content:

  • Working Scientifically: Development of scientific thinking: evaluate associated personal, social, economic and environmental implications.
  • Biology: explain how communicable diseases (caused by viruses, bacteria, protists and fungi) are spread in animals and plants.

Running the activity

Starter Is the news story true? How could you find out?
Core task Students read a newspaper article and decide how concerned they are.
Plenary Why might you come to a different conclusion when reading different reports?
Extension Students use a checklist to decide how trustworthy a report is.
Plenary Students use a checklist to decide how trustworthy a report is.
For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.


Computer virus spreads to humans

The news story from the starter.

First human ‘infected with computer virus’

Another version of the news story from the starter which gives a more realistic viewpoint of what happened.

30,000-year-old giant virus ‘comes back to life’

BBC news story about the giant virus