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Operation AntibodyOperation-Antibody

  • Subject:
  • |
  • Grade(s): 9-12
  • |
  • Duration: Three class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will:
1. Identify the types of cells that are important in the immune system.
2. Investigate the different mechanisms used by white blood cells as they protect the body from foreign invaders.
3. Apply knowledge of the immune response to explain what is happening on a cellular level as the body is invaded and counters with an attack of its own.


For this lesson, you will need:
Pencil, paper
Reference materials (text, magazines, Internet sources with diagrams of viruses, bacteria, antibodies, white blood cells, immune system)
Construction paper
Newsprint or other large sheets of paper
Index cards with case studies (see Procedure).


1. This procedure assumes that the students have had some preliminary discussions concerning the immune system, microbes, and protein structure.
As a class or in small groups, review the following terms associated with the immune system:
macrophage bacteria lysosomes
interleukin viruses specific immunity
helper T cells antigen nonspecific immunity
suppressor T cells inflammation natural killer cells
killer T cells leukocytes vaccine
memory T and B cells B cell growth factor lyphokines
2. Create a chart that defines these terms. Let students know that they will be given one of five "case studies" and asked to write a script describing the scenario. They will use this chart as a reference for the activity.
3. Divide the students into small groups of four or five.
4. Present each group with a case study from theOperation Antibody Activity Sheetwritten on an index card. Using the information from the previous class, students should analyze the case and create a diagram or concept map on a large sheet of paper that illustrates the interaction between the invading antigen and the immune system. Students should use as many of the terms from the previous list as applicable. Arrows and other illustrations should be used to help clarify an oral explanation. A "storyboard" format might be used instead of a diagram. Note: The diagrams may be similar, but there are variations in the type antigen causing the reaction, mode of entry, transmission, and so on. This should create unique story lines for each script.
5. An informal discussion with the teacher should determine if the correct sequence of events has been outlined before the group moves on to script writing.
6. Students should now proceed with writing a script that dramatizes the basic interaction occurring between antigen and the immune response based on their case study. They need to specifically identify the antigen and consider transmission, entrance into the body, and the immune response to that antigen.
7. Have students choose a narrator and a cast of characters from their group who will perform the scene.
8. Students should use simple staging and nametags to identify the characters in their scene. They should conclude each skit with a summary of the immune response and anything unique to their case, such as inflammatory response or allergic reaction.
9. After all dramatizations have been performed, review the immune system by comparing the body's response in each case.

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Adaptations for younger students:
Divide students into small groups. In an envelope, students should find index cards with some of the terms related to the immune system (see Day 1). Teachers can choose from the list of immune system terms to match their students' level of learning. Students should deal the cards out to the group at their table. Together, they will create a chain story. On a single sheet of paper, each person in the group will contribute two sentences to the story that begins with a flu virus that has found itself inside the human nose.
  • One student will start his or her story and then pass it on to the next person.
  • Each card should be used for ideas.
  • The students should sign their names next to the lines they write.
When they are done, one person will be chosen to read the story back to the group.

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Discussion Questions

1. Discuss some of the ways microbes evade the body's immune system.
2. Distinguish between antigen and antibody. Then explain how antibodies and macrophages work together during an antigen-antibody reaction.
3. Differentiate between the functions of T cells and B cells.
4. Distinguish between viruses and bacteria. Explain the similarities and differences in the way they affect the immune system.
5. Discuss how the immune response contributes to homeostasis.
6. Debate whether mass inoculation is worth the risk of the few who die each year as a result of receiving a vaccination.

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The project can be evaluated in two phases. First, evaluate students' creation of the concept map outlining the appropriate immune response for their case. Correct use of vocabulary and accurate graphics should be accompanied with a brief oral discussion. The second phase is the evaluation of the dramatization of their immune response. Oral presentation, creativity, thorough and accurate presentation of material, and a conclusion for review should all be considered. Peer evaluation and self-evaluation of the process can also be used effectively with this type of assignment.

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Constructing a Model of a Virus
Have students construct a model of a virus and use this virus to explain the differences between viruses and bacteria. They should also use the model to describe the lytic (reproductive) cycle of a virus. Hint: A T4 bacteriophage is a good model.
Materials: Diagrams and reference materials showing different types of viruses.
  1. Students decide on a virus to model.
  2. Using materials such as wire, pipe cleaners, clay, bolts, and so on, students model the capsid, sheath, tail, and nucleic acid core.
  3. Research information on the virus and present this information and the model to the class. Note: Depending on lesson time, students could also model an antigen-antibody reaction.
Each fall signals back to school, back to football games, and unfortunately for many, back to bed with the flu. is run by the National Flu Surveillance Network (NFSN) as a hands-on tool to actually track the spread of flu and identify outbreak zones across the country. Use its Web site as a database to research the answers to questions that you might have concerning the flu. Propose a hypothesis that might explain why different regions are more at risk for the infection than others. Have students use the scientific method and their investigative skills to formulate questions. Research and analyze the data. The Web site called Influenza information on virus characteristics, flu symptoms, how the flu is diagnosed, treatment, who is at risk for complications, and how to protect yourself during the flu season.

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Suggested Readings

Common Cold and Flu
Alvin, Virginia, and Robert Silverstein. Enslow Publishers, 1994.
You're coughing, you're sneezing, you have a fever... you may very well have a cold or the flu. The authors explore the facts behind these two diseases, how they are similar and different, and how humanity has suffered from them throughout history. Information about new research into methods of prevention and treatment that could lead to cures is also included.

The Immune System: Your Body's Disease-Fighting Army
Mark P. Friedlander, Jr. and Terry M. Phillips. Lerner Publications, 1998.
The human body's immune system is what protects us from organisms that cause disease. This book contains a discussion of the components of the immune system, an introduction to disease-causing organisms, an explanation of vaccines, and methods of boosting a person's immunity. There is also information on what happens when the immune system fails.

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How Your Immune System Works
Text and further links on the workings of the human immune system

American Lung Association - Influenza
Lots of test info and a few graphics on flu

CDC Influenza Prevention and Control
Everything you want to know about influenza

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Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    antibody
Definition: A glycoprotein produced in response to an antigen, such as a bacteria. Antibodies defend the body by destroying or weakening bacteria.
Context: Antibodies have the ability to combine with the antigen that stimulated their production.

speaker    antigen
Definition: A foreign substance (usually a protein) to which lymphocytes respond.
Context: Antigen is short for anti body gen erator.

speaker    immune response
Definition: The response of the body when it comes into contact with an antigen that leads to the formation of antibodies and sensitized lymphocytes.
Context: The immune response takes place when foreign proteins called antigens cause the production of antibodies.

speaker    inflammation
Definition: The pain, heat, and swelling of an injured area; acts to clear an area of infecting microbes and dead tissue cells so that tissue repair can begin.
Context: Inflammation refers to a localized protective response to tissue injury or destruction.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: Science
Knows the general structure and functions of cells.
Knows that a concentrated mixture of thousands of different molecules within the cell form a variety of specialized structures that carry out such cell functions as energy production, transport of molecules, and the storage of genetic material.
Benchmark: Knows that cell functions are regulated; regulation of cells occurs both through changes in the activity of the functions performed by proteins and the selective expression of individual genes, allowing cells to respond to their environment and to control and coordinate the synthesis and breakdown of specific molecules, cell growth, and division.

Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: Health
Knows essential concepts about the prevention and control of disease.
Understands how the immune system functions to prevent or combat disease.

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Lisa Lyle Wu, biology teacher, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., and education specialist, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

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