Zapping Viruses on a Sick Day
As I sit on my couch, fighting for control of my digestive track with the microbes in my belly, I’ve come to the realization that I miss my classroom. Teaching all day, even on the most exhausting days, is by far much more rewarding, and exciting, than having the day off (no matter what the students think). I was looking forward to starting new projects with the 3rd and 5th graders this week, and I was dissapointed when I had to stay home sick today.
However, while resting today, I did find a few fun interactive games that might be useful in the elementary or middle school science lesson about the human body and our immune system. I got to blast and zap virtual microbes and learn about our immune system, while secretly wishing I could just as easily zap the tiny bugs inside of me.
Of all the games that I played, and sites that I explored, three stood out as being entertaining or educational enough to warrant another look. NOVA Online has a fun little Fighting Back game in which you control a cell from your immune system trying to fight off the measels. After chasing the quickly multiplying viruses in a futile attempt to kill them, you finally hook up with a special T-cell in order to take care of the threat once and for all. The nice part is that once the game is over, it takes the time to eplain why it was so difficult to kill the virus, and how the body produces the special T-cells in order to fight the infection. It’s a good site for a quick review for middle school students.
A very ambitious 7th grade science teacher, Mrs. Vilenski, has created a colorful, interactive site that describes how every layer of our body works, and provides a. Her Life Sciences Connection – Human Body site comes complete with super geeky Star Trek inspired computer voice, and the BioSimulator 3000 White Blood Cell Game. The game itself is really just a fun diversion, not much learning, but the rest of the site is a treasure trove of online resources providing a nice overview of the human body.
By far the most fun I had was playing through none other than the Nobel Prize’s immunity game, Defending Our Bodies. General Macrophage, my drill instructor, put me in charge to flinging my troops (granulocytes) through the bloodstream in order to eat up the deadly infections. My first mission was to send my white blood cells into battle against germs that were spreading in one of the fingers due to a splinter having broken the skin. I failed miserably, but learned that granulocytes are the first line of defense against outside invaders, and they are the cells responsible for all of the yellowish puss that is produced from infected wounds. The controls were terribly difficult, but that’s not the point, and I could easily see upper elementary and middle school students enjoying the distraction as an anticipatory set and/or a review game.
Enjoy zapping some germs, and hopefully you’ll stay healthier than I was today.