Glencoe Life Science

Unit 4: Human Body Systems

WebQuest Projects



In this WebQuest, students conduct Internet research to Investigate Disease and Prevention. After they conduct their research, they will answer questions about cholera, the flu epidemic of the 20th century, malaria, polio, and smallpox. Students also will research how scientists have investigated the causes of these five diseases and how to prevent them. Students will select one of the diseases to create a time line of important historical dates to describe how that particular disease has been studied.



While students are doing their Internet research, they will answer the set of questions given. Each Web site has some of the answers to the questions, but several of the questions may require information from two or more of the web sites. Students should be able to compile information to answer the questions as they read through each Web site.

As students research the answers to the questions, they will also gather information to use to create a time line about one of the diseases investigated in the WebQuest. The time line will show the course of history as scientists studied causes of the disease. The time line will include other dates to provide a historical context for the periods displayed.


  • Investigate how scientists have researched causes and prevention of five diseases: cholera, the flu epidemic of the 20th century, malaria, polio, and smallpox
  • Create a time line to represent significant events in the process of investigating a preventable disease



Students will use the Internet links provided to find out all about five diseases: cholera, the flu epidemic of the 20th century, malaria, polio, and smallpox. They will learn about the strategies different scientists used to study these diseases, the misconceptions that people had about these diseases throughout history, and how different ways to treat these diseases were researched. In order to extend their understanding of one of these five diseases, students will use their research to create a time line showing important dates in the study of the causes and prevention of that disease.



2-3 days to answer the set of questions and produce the time line and its descriptions



As students progress through the list of Web sites, you may help them focus on what they need to know to answer the questions. Several of the Web sites have links to other web sites with relevant information. If time allows, you may want to allow students to further explore subjects related to the five diseases investigated. Students will then continue with their Internet research to create a time line about one of the five diseases they investigated. They should use their research as well as visiting additional Web sites to find more information in order to create a time line. This product shows important dates in the scientific investigation of disease as well. The time line will include other historical events that framed the course of events during that period of time as well as a summary of how the disease currently affects people.

Have students review the rubric to understand how their final product will be evaluated.



time line Rubric

time line RubricPossible


Include at least four points on the time line related to scientific investigation about the disease. 10  

Include at least four points on the time line relating other historical events to the time line points about the study of the disease.


Write a description for each point on the time line related to the study of the disease.


Write a description for each point on the time line related to historical events.


Write a description about the current state of prevention of the disease.


*You may assign 10 points to each of the 5 questions for a total of 50 possible points. Possible answers to the questions are given below. You may rate the answer to each question by the following scale: Excellent – 9-10 points; Very Good – 7-8 points; Good – 5-6 points; Satisfactory – 3-4 points; Poor – 1-2 points; and Unsatisfactory – 0 points.

Possible Answers to Questions about Investigating Disease and Prevention
- Student Answers will vary.

  1. John Snow used maps to locate where people who died during the 1854 outbreak of cholera lived. Using medical geography allowed Snow to determine that cholera was spread through water from one particular source.
  2. One of the many theories that people believed about the flu epidemic of 1918 was that Germany was responsible for starting the outbreak as a result of the outcome of World War I. Students should list other misconceptions as well.
  3. A first round of testing in April 1954 was exceptionally effective, preventing 60-70% of people from developing polio. Students should also mention the setback and how the vaccine was improved.
  4. One strategy to prevent contracting malaria involves the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Since most bites from malaria-carrying mosquitoes frequently happen at night, sleeping in a mosquito net treated with insecticides directed at these insects may deter them from biting people. Students should list other strategies as well.
  5. Students should indicate that Edward Jenner found that people who had been exposed to cowpox, a weakened version of smallpox, were protected from contracting smallpox. Be sure students include how the vaccine affects the immune system and how the system responds in their answers.

Evaluating the Worksheet

Use the evaluation rubric or other means to assess each student's time line. Evaluation of the time line should include self-assessment and teacher assessment.



Using information gathered from the Internet, students should be able to answer the questions about five different diseases and their prevention. Student should gain an understanding of how different diseases have been studied. They should also understand that these five diseases can be prevented. After completing their research, students should apply their knowledge to create a time line that demonstrates their awareness of how the causes and the prevention of a disease are investigated.



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