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Understanding Human Health and Disease

Seminar Leader:
Ingrid Waldron


Our seminar investigated a broad range of topics, ranging from infectious diseases to diet, obesity, physical activity and health. We learned how understanding basic biology contributes to understanding health and disease, and we also investigated the contributions of behavioral and environmental factors.

Seminar participants represented a wide variety of disciplines and grade levels, and their curriculum units illustrate the relevance of health-related topics across the curriculum. Many of these curriculum units help to promote student health at the same time as they foster learning skills and topics in diverse subjects and grade levels.

“The Politics of Food: How the American Government Contributes to Public Health” analyzes the process by which scientific understanding of the effects of nutrition on health has been converted to government policies concerning school lunches. This curriculum unit by Meagan Rubino can be included in a history or government course to help students develop a more sophisticated understanding of how our government actually functions.

“Staying Healthy by Participating in Dance and Sports: Ways of Exercise in Many Cultures” engages ESOL students in talking and writing about dance and sports that are popular in the US and in their own cultures. In this curriculum unit by Meg Flisek, students learn vocabulary and develop their language skills, at the same time as they learn about the importance of exercise for good health.

“Health and the Inner City” begins with a student survey about types of illness experienced by family members and friends, followed by analysis of the data to identify important diseases in the students’ neighborhood. Then students research these diseases and ways of preventing them. This curriculum unit by Nicole Flores is designed for a fifth grade math class.

“Diabetes: Through the Eyes of a Ninth Grader”, designed for a ninth grade health class, presents a sequence of activities to develop student understanding of the biology, indicators, causes, prevention and management of diabetes. The activities in this curriculum unit by Sue George are well-designed to engage student interest, at the same time as they develop student understanding of an increasingly important threat to teenage and adult health in the US.

“Urban Disparity: The Negative Health Effects of Being Poor in an Urban Environment” investigates both environmental and behavioral factors that influence health. This curriculum unit by Troy Holiday engages sixth graders in gathering and analyzing survey and observational data.

“All about Germs” uses a sequence of stories and engaging hands-on activities to help kindergartners understand what germs are and their effect on our bodies, how germs are spread, and ways that we can prevent the spread of germs. This curriculum unit by Melissa Freeman can provide an immediate health benefit for kindergartners at the same time as it develops their understanding of basic concepts of infectious disease.

“My Body: My Life – A Sexual Health Unit for High Functioning Autistic Support Students at the High-School Level” can be used to provide this special population of students with information that is important for their health. This curriculum unit by Lorna Nation provides resources and approaches specifically designed to help autistic high school students understand their bodies, reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, and self-advocacy skills.

“Healthy Home Cooking” presents a sequence of activities designed to foster a solid, practical understanding of good nutrition for members of an after-school cooking club. In the culminating activity of this curriculum unit by Jessica Langholtz, cooking club members distribute a healthy dinner recipe and ingredients, together with nutritional information, to their fellow high school students.

Unit TitleAuthor


Staying Healthy by Participating in Dance and Sports: Ways of Exercise in Many Cultures

Meg H. Flisek
Keywords: dance, exercise, Health, sports

Health and the Inner City

Nicole Flores
Keywords: African-American community, diabetes, halth, risk

All About Germs

Melissa Freeman
Keywords: germs, Health

Diabetes: Through the Eyes of a 9th Grader

Sue George
Keywords: Biology, diabetes, Health

Urban Disparity: The Negative Health Effects of Being Poor in an  Urban Environment 

Troy J. Holiday
Keywords: Health, urban, urban environment

Healthy Home Cooking

Jessica Langholtz
Keywords: cardiovasular disease, diabetes, Health, young adults

My Body, My Life: A Sexual Health Unit for High Functioning Autistic Support Students at the High-School Level

Lorna Nation
Keywords: Health, HIV/AIDS, sexual health, STI

The Politics of Food: How the American Government Contributes to Public Health

Meagan C. Rubino
Keywords: Government, Health, Politics, public health