Seventh Grade Disease Awareness and Prevention Showcase

by: Amy Brill, Seventh Grade Dean
Students in seventh grade expanded on their project based learning experience this year with a successful disease awareness showcase. Some students will be expanding their projects by visiting the retirees at the Sunshine Center on May 8 to bring health awareness to the folks there. This year’s projects were the result of a $3,000 innovation grant that the seventh grade team won last year to help expand health awareness in our community.

Project Based Learning motivates students to gain knowledge beyond traditional classroom lecture/memorization methods and has lasting impacts. Projects give students the chance to apply the skills they learn in school to relevant, real-world situations. PBL also teaches students how to think critically, solve problems, work in teams, and make presentations.

This project's essential question was: How can you increase awareness or help prevent disease or illness?
Throughout the year, students engaged in this topic in English, history, math, science, health, technology, music and world language classes. They read about and researched the historic yellow fever of 1793 in fiction and non-fiction texts in English class, and explored how diseases affected early Floridians through a class field experience to St. Augustine. Students learned about the history of disease and its impact in American Experience I and World Language classes, how viruses and bacteria develop in Science, how to measure the spread of diseases in Math, and how germs are spread in Health. As “brain breaks,” pandemic and plague games were introduced to explore how quickly diseases spread.

In February, students began researching a disease they were interested in exploring, contacted members of the community to foster collaboration and service learning, and then created various projects during a week of project learning after spring break. Student outreach ranged from within Shorecrest to as far away as Africa. This included medical science students and engineering students in the Upper School, Lower School classrooms and teachers, media specialists, nurses from St. Anthony’s and other local hospitals, professors from numerous universities and others, founders of organizations, City of St. Petersburg Waste Management and others. The St. Pete Free Clinic, Sunshine Center, local health department, and the Center for Disease Control were resources for students as well.

The unit culminated in a Disease Project Showcase on Friday, April 26, 2019. There, projects were presented for families and peers. The variety of topics included measles awareness; brain games and exercises to help those with Alzheimer's and other brain-related illnesses; hand, foot and mouth disease prevention; Crohn's disease awareness; information on tuberculosis and much more.

Kristine Marquez Grant, Head of Middle School, thought the showcase was a great success. "The Disease and Illness Showcase was fantastic. The students were well prepared, very articulate, and the amount they knew about their topics was evident. Thanks to the seventh grade team for the hard work that went into working with students and preparing them for the Showcase and going to the Sunshine Center."

"Students and teachers hope this project showcase will expand beyond the Shorecrest community and become a disease awareness/prevention event for the City of St. Petersburg." said seventh grade Dean, Amy Brill.

The year of work has resulted in the type of learning that the seventh grade students will not soon forget. 

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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.