Being new to the GRS blogs I have been trying to work out this blog page’s identity; I think I’ve got it! As the blog’s tagline says “#scienceisreal” so I think I want to try to reflect on some real science that I engaged in each week. It is way too easy to teach science without doing science or even being scientific. I like to try to apply my identity as a scientist to my entire life though, not just a persona that I play in a classroom so this moment of reflection should help me think about the things I do in a scientific way throughout the week, or the real science that I notice I engage in on the day to day. Its important to me that my students know that I absolutely practice what I teach, so here goes…
I know there was a lot that I did, using simple machines, computers, technology, co-creating authentic experiments with students that I really did not know what the outcomes would be, but I can not get past the giant science thing that really consumed my life this week. I had…a cold.
Even though I did not choose to engage in this science I was involved and as I drove to and from work and school I had plenty of time to think about the science of what was going on inside my body and in my immediate environment. Not only that but I started to track the source of the cold that I was infected with and actively engaged in practices that might reduce my transmission of the cold to others. What science was I doing? Epidemiology:
Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events (including disease), and the application of this study to the control of diseases and other health problems. Various methods can be used to carry out epidemiological investigations: surveillance and descriptive studies can be used to study distribution; analytical studies are used to study determinants. (World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/topics/epidemiology/en/ )
Colds are a generic term for a group of respiratory viruses that infect people. They are not caused by
The Rhinovirus is the most frequent cause of the “common cold”
standing out in the cold (yes mom I had my jacket on when it got down to the 40’s and 50’s this week). According to the Centers for Disease Control colds are spread through the air and close contact with others. To stop the spread of the cold the CDC recommends:
If you have a cold, you should follow these tips to prevent viruses from spreading to other people:
- Stay at home while you are sick
- Avoid close contact with others, such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands
- Move away from people before coughing or sneezing
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue then throw it away, or cough and sneeze into your upper shirt sleeve, completely covering your mouth and nose
- Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and objects such as toys and doorknobs
Well… as a teacher we had to modify that intervention plan a little bit because I really couldn’t sacrifice an entire week of learning with my students so bullet point number one was out. Instead I focused on points 2-6 and so far none of my students are showing signs of catching my cold but they may still be incubating the virus so I will have to wait until next week to know if my efforts to control the spread were successful.
The other half of Epidemiology is tracking where this disease came from. The short answer is my son, but if I tracked it back further his 5th grade math teacher (in a different school district 20 miles away) had the cold last week and through some interviews (I know these people, I am not running around like a crazy person blaming others for passing on the cold) it turns out that that teacher had caught the cold from a co-teacher who had caught it from their child who is in an entirely different school district yet another 20 miles away. The study of how diseases spread is pretty interesting. This little virus that has very little mobility in and of itself has co-evolved with humans to use us as transportation vectors to spread its DNA as far as it can go.
Because I have a self defined identity of being a “science person” I look at the world through this lens. Other people might just say “i’m sick and suffer, I say “I’m sick how’s that work”. As we discussed in class this week helping students create identities that can create questions like that is a really powerful way to help them engage in science. (Thompson, 2014) If anyone from outside of the class is reading this blog I highly recommend reading it too. See you all monday!
Thompson, J. (2014). Engaging girls’ sociohistorical identities in science. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 23(3), 392-446.