Lyme Disease Education

During an ecology unit in their biology class, tenth graders read a local article on “Living with Lyme Disease.” As a follow-up, their teacher brought in two guest speakers who have the disease. Following those presentations, the students decided to engage in a service-learning project focused on Lyme disease in their area.

Through Internet and library research, and interviews with local experts, the students learned about the causes and effects of Lyme disease. They discovered that the State had inadequate data on the prevalence of deer ticks, so the students decided to gather data on how many deer ticks were in their community. Working with scientists from the State Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, students developed a safety protocol to use while they were doing field surveys—including wearing full-body Tyvek suits to protect themselves.

After gathering the data (which they reported to state agencies), students determined that Lyme disease was indeed a threat in their area and set out to educate their community. They brainstormed different ways to educate the public and then formed small working groups according to their personal interests. Each group created goals, an action plan, a timeline and an outline of individual tasks.

To help educate their community, the students produced a movie about Lyme disease, a web page, a benefit dinner (with a PowerPoint presentation about the disease), a radio interview, a public service announcement, informational pamphlets and a puppet show for elementary students. By reaching out through so many different means, the students were able to inform many community members about the dangers of Lyme disease.