Resources to Help You Teach About Communicable Disease and Immunity

Nov. 28, 2016

As World AIDS Day approaches, consider the following resources from ASM’s open-access Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education (JMBE) to help your students understand the mechanisms behind the spread of disease and how the human immune system works.

A Simulation of Communicable Disease and Herd Immunity for the Microbiology Classroom or Laboratory

J. Wiles; Level: High School - Undergraduate

This activity demonstrates the spread of disease and herd immunity in a class or lab setting, using cards in place of infectious organisms and vaccines. Students enjoy the hands-on game and are often surprised at how fast an “infection” can spread. The activity could be repeated using varying percentages of vaccine cards to demonstrate herd immunity—why a high percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to stop the spread of an outbreak.

Immunequest: Assessment of a Video Game as a Supplement to an Undergraduate Immunology Course

S. L. Raimondi; Level: Undergraduate

Undergraduate immunology courses are often taught without a laboratory component, resulting in fewer opportunities for students to participate in hands-on exercises. ImmuneQuest is an assessed active learning tool that helps undergraduates understand how the immune system works to fight disease. In the game, students act as cells in the immune system to find and attack pathogens and answer questions to earn additional abilities.

ASM also has an activity for the high school classroom (grades 9-12) entitled Pathogens and Our Defenses. A card game pitting immune, public health, and medical defenses against a variety of pathogens, this activity helps students find patterns in which defenses are effective against which pathogens. Ultimately, students create their own pathogen card and predict which defenses will be effective against it.

For these and more HIV/AIDS resources from ASM please visit

Author: Bethany Adamec

Bethany Adamec
Bethany Adamec is a Science Education Specialist at ASM, where she communicates about ASM’s work in student and faculty professional development, supports the ASM Education Board, and works with colleagues to promote evidence-based education reform.