Educator Resources

Class Discussion

Establish Prior Knowledge

Ask students to describe what a pandemic is and the difference between a pandemic and epidemic. If necessary, direct them to this website:
Point out that the recent outbreak of swine flu, influenza A H1N1, has caused great concern that this virulent flu could become a pandemic. Explain that in the snapshot they are about to see, students will learn how sequencing of the virus’s genes will help scientists track the outbreak and how the virus is evolving.


Have students work in small groups. Have groups use the websites listed to answer and discuss these questions about influenza.

  • What is the flu and how does it spread?
  • How do new strains of flu occur?
  • How many types of flu viruses are there?
  • What are haemaglutinin and neuraminidase and how do they function?
  • What are some steps you can take to stay healthy and avoid the flu? - a


Have groups share their answers to the questions. Call on students to share any concerns they have about swine flu or future pandemics, and whether what they have learned has helped alleviate any of these concerns.