T2 - The Malaria Mission
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MANHICA, Mozambique (AP) – Touring a malaria clinic, where they sat on reed mats with women and their babies, Bill and Melinda Gates announced a $168 million grant Sunday to accelerate research into malaria, a disease that kills over a million people each year, most of them young African children.

The grant is the largest ever single donation towards fighting the mosquito-borne disease. Malaria is making a deadly comeback in Africa, the world’s poorest continent, as strains of the disease become increasingly resistant to treatment.

This news item signals the beginning of The Malaria Mission, a problem scenario in which students become members of a team sent to Africa to make decisions about where and how malaria vaccination trials will be conducted. The teams are comprised of a variety of professionals (geographers, economists, biologists, public relations personnel, etc.) who must make vital decisions and construct convincing arguments to gain the cooperation of the governments and the people of Africa.



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As students investigate this problem situation they learn about the countries of Africa, the causes and treatments of malaria, and the intricate interactions of science, politics, economics, cultural beliefs and traditions. In planning for the vaccination trials, they will find it necessary to communicate clearly with a wide variety of people, from rural villagers who cannot read or write to government officials who have little time and many competing interests.

As students work through the unit, they enlarge their understanding of the concept of systems and a significant interdisciplinary idea: Systems interact, and the effects of interaction can be limiting or enabling.

The Malaria Mission is a problem-based learning PPT(PBL) unit, as are all of the T2 units PDF. The skills that are developed through participation in a PBL unit include decision-making, critical thinking, and, of course, problem solving. T2 units also highlight the effective use of metacognition and collaboration.

This unit is designed for use in middle grades (7th grade in NC) or high school (10th grade in NC) and integrates science, social studies, and communication skills. Appropriate state (North Carolina) standards PDF have been identified and can be found in the Professional Information Center.

The time frame is variable, to be determined by each teacher. We recommend a minimum of two weeks.


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Multiple means of assessment are suggested over the course of the unit. Visit the Professional Information Center for more information and for examples. Access to some of these items is also available through the Student Investigation Center.

Checkpoints (signified by a check) are short quizzes meant to be used by students to self-check their content knowledge and skills as they work through unit tasks. We have embedded an example or two in the unit’s Learning Tasks, but teachers will want to add others to accompany the information they consider important.

Product/Performance Rubrics for evaluating Class Participation PDF,Teamwork PDF, and Presentation PDF are available for use with the unit. Other rubrics, or scoring guidelines, may be developed for specific tasks and activities. Each task included in The Malaria Mission unit includes a product or performance that can provide assessment information.

Problem Logs provide a good way to check the metacognitive thinking of your students. Each student should keep a log, making contributions each day. Teachers may use the log as a place for "minute writes" if they choose. See an example PDF of a Problem Log with minute write questions in the Professional Information Center. A blank Word Problem Log is available for students in the Student Investigation Center.

Concept Maps are sometimes used by teachers as assessment tools since they can provide evidence of change in conceptual understanding. If you are interested in using concept maps as assessment PDF, click here or access a brief explanation in the Professional Information Center.


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If you are intrigued enough to proceed, go to the Engagement HTMLsection to get started on the first phase of problem-based learning.


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As you proceed through the unit, we invite you to share your experiences HTML with us, and we will share with you what we have heard from others in the Communication Center . Together, we have much to learn!


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