In this activity, students play a card game pitting immune, public health and medical defenses against a variety of pathogens. By mapping which defenses are effective against which pathogens and looking for patterns, students gain a basic understanding of how each defense works. Finally, students are asked to make their own pathogen card and predict which defenses will be effective against it.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this activity, students will be able to do the following:
  1. Describe components of the human immune system and how they work.
  2. Describe different categories of human pathogens based on organism type, how they are transmitted, whether they live inside or outside of host cells, and notable features.
  3. Predict whether a particular immune, public health, or medical defense will be effective against a pathogen based on its features.

Science Standards

This lesson addresses Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS; 2013):
  • HS-LS1-2 Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.

Supplementary Artwork

If you prefer to have professionally printed card decks (as opposed to the Avery nametag inserts), you may use the high-resolution artwork below. The graphics are designed to be printed on standard poker-sized cards, 2.5" x 3.5". For each “Defense” deck, you need to print 4 copies of each card, and for each “Pathogen” deck, you need to print 3 copies of each card. To find vendors who print custom cards, Google “custom card game.”

Note that the artwork may not be altered and may be used for educational purposes only.

Download Artwork