Mosquitoes are the world’s most dangerous killer. The diseases they transmit, malaria, Zika and dengue fever, cause more than a million deaths per year. Some scientists have suggested exterminate all dangerous mosquito species. One method is to release genetically modified (GM) male mosquitoes which prevent further breeding. In this project, students investigate whether exterminating mosquitoes is a good idea, using scientific knowledge about interdependence.


Exterminate is a way to make project-based learning easy, and get students more confident at engaging with real-life science issues.Whereas other ENGAGE activities provide a lot of structure and support, a Project simulates how students will meet issues in everyday life.

First, the materials help you get students engaged by the dilemma and set up the ‘research questions’ to answer. Then we provide students with several sources that contain the information they need. You can encourage students to analyse and solve the problem independently, by applying scientific knowledge and ‘working scientifically’ skills they have learned.

A project can be done in 2 lessons, or over a longer time. It makes an ideal opportunity to work with experts, like ‘science ambassadors’, to learn about science in society.

This video describes how an ENGAGE Project works



Materials for KS3 logo 2Science objective

Interdependence: Describe how a species’ population changes as its predator or prey population changes (KS3 Science Syllabus)

Enquiry objectives

Apply skills: Interrogate sources, estimate risk, use ethics, justify opinions and communicate ideas (KS3 Science Syllabus)

Try the activity

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Running the activity

Stage 1 Resources Running the stage
Set up the project
setting up the project icon

Exterminate presentation

Size: 9.84 MB
Introduce the dilemma ‘should we exterminate mosquitoes?’
Students write down their research questions on their KWHL grid (what do I know already, what do I need to know, how do I found out, what did I learn).

Exterminate game of life

Size: 5.26 MB
Students take part in a simulation to find out what could happen to other organisms if there were no mosquitoes.
Stage 2 Resources Running the stage
Analyse and solve
analyse solve icon
Real sources (weblinks on the Analyse and solve page and also below) Direct your students to the Analyse and solve page.
Adapted sources (students can download these from the analyse and solve page)

Scientific paper

Size: 37.33 KB

Press release

Size: 41.85 KB
Students view and use sources to analyse the risks, benefits and ethics of using GM technology to exterminate mosquitoes.

Risks and benefits

Size: 1.42 MB

Exterminate thinking guides

Size: 141.57 KB
They answer their research questions.
Stage 3 Resources Running the stage
communicate icon2
Student-led with a teacher intro.

Exterminate communicate

Size: 2.09 MB

Students choose an audience and way of communicating.


They choose evidence from their KWHL grid that supports an opinion.

Students present their findings.

They make a personal decision about the dilemma. You can show us what they decided by voting below.

 Student opinions


Oxitec video Scientists from the company that make the GM mosquitoes, Oxitec, explain their work.

GM mosquito diagram A diagram to show how the GM technology works.

Scientific paper Research paper on a trial using GM mosquitoes. An adapted version is supplied to students, which contains simplified language.

Press release From Oxitec on field tests they carried out in Brazil. An adapted version is supplied.

News video Oxitec are planning to release GM mosquitoes in Florida, USA. This news story highlights some of the concerns residents have.

New York times article    Collective evolution website    These two websites contain opinions on the risks and benefits of GM mosquitoes. Students that find accessing the information can instead carry out the activity ‘risks and benefits’.