We describe how to enable students to learn about the transmission of disease, resistant bacteria, and the importance of taking a “full course” of antibiotics by developing models and simulations to represent the growth and demise of bacteria. By doing these activities, students experience a model of the effects of antibiotics on the population of disease-causing bacteria during an infection. Students learn about the spread of infection through game playing and then, using a simulation, investigate how different variables, such as skipping a day of medication, affect the persistence of the disease. A key concept is that almost every naturally occurring population of bacteria that causes disease has a component that is resistant to antibiotics. Therefore, through graphing data and computer models, students can visually understand why it is important to take a complete course of antibiotics to kill all the bacteria and decrease the likelihood of bacteria becoming resistant, which can be harmful to human health. In this hands-on, inquiry-based activity that is seamlessly integrated with technology, the teacher becomes the facilitator of learning while the student is an active, engaged partner.
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Vol. 78 • No. 7