Will the next outbreak be a global pandemic? The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was the largest in history, and killed more than 11,000 people. Even survivors are suffering long term health problems. Scientists have responded quickly with a number of possible vaccines. In this activity students are asked if they would volunteer to be part of the safety trial. They gather information from different sources, weigh up risks and benefits and apply what they know about genes to decide if it is a risk worth taking.
- Weigh up risks and benefits and make a decision, using scientific knowledge of the function of genes.
Try the activity
Sample: you can download this activity without registering/logging in.
England National Curriculum KS3:
- Working Scientifically: Scientific attitudes: Evaluate risks
- Biology: Inheritance, chromosomes, DNA and genes: a simple model of chromosomes, genes and DNA in heredity
GCSE Combined Science subject content:
- Working Scientifically: Development of scientific thinking: evaluate associated personal, social, economic and environmental implications; and make decisions based on the evaluation of evidence and arguments; evaluate risks both in practical science and the wider societal context
- Biology: The genome and gene expression: explain the following terms:…chromosome, gene,…
Running the activity
Dilemma Invitation to trial the vaccine
Science Students use their knowledge of genes to explain how the vaccine works
Decision Gathering information, weighing up risks and benefits and coming to a decision
Plenary How did you make your decision?
For detailed running notes, download the teachers guide.
Information about the Ebola vaccine and the trials.
Progress towards the Ebola vaccine in 80 seconds
Short video clip which can be used at the start of the lesson.
The first woman to receive the trial Ebola vaccine talks about why she volunteered and what the trial involves.
Ebola virus: how it spreads and what it does to you
Video with further information about Ebola
A strategy-based computer game where students investigate infectious diseases in an attempt to stop them spreading.