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The Blood Fever blog is ...
  • A compelling story about climate change and its effects The story is a true one. A theoretical ecologist from the University of Michigan has collected data that shows a correlation between changing mosquito habitats (due to climate changes) and a spike in cases of malaria in the African highlands. The data set this scientist and her team have discovered is one of the few that clearly shows that a change in climate is accompanied by a change in the range of some animals, presumably to seek the optimal conditions in which they flourish. As animals move into new areas, they often pose new threats for the humans that are part of their new habitats. The changes in their habitats often bring new problems for the people living within their new ranges.

    That is the case in the mountainous regions of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. The cooler temperatures in these regions used to limit the mosquito population and slow the development of the plasmodia they carry that cause malaria. But the average temperatures in the area have been rising and the mosquitoes and plasmodia are flourishing. There has also been a spike in the number of cases of malaria in this area. And people living there–who have not had a chance to build up immunity to malaria as people who have lived with these insects for years–are suffering greatly.

  • Written in the form of a blog (the story unwinds from end to beginning) Created by Lindy, a fictional college student pursuing a real-life scientific investigation, the blog chronicles a trip from Mombasa to Kericho, Kenya, (literally, from Kenya's sea coast to its mountainous regions) where Lindy hopes to see firsthand what is happening to the people there as a result of climate change. She is working under the sponsorship of the ecologist who first showed a connection between climate change and disease in this area. Lindy's college minimester brings her to Africa and what might possibly be a life-changing event, as she struggles to understand malaria and the ways climate change impacts its future.

Standards and Objectives
Reasons to use the Blood Fever blog
  • The story gives learners a purpose to acquire knowledge.
    Climate change is a complicated story. The science behind it is sometimes hard to understand. Some students need to find another pathway toward that understanding other than focusing on the beauty of the concepts themselves. The story in the blog gives them that pathway through its narrative. Understanding science concepts becomes part of the learner's job in unraveling the story narrative.

    Niles Eldredge ( has been on the scientific staff of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City since 1969. He explains the reasons this approach works: "Our narratives-our stories-should give kids a sense of the intellectual (and sometimes derring-do!) adventures of actually doing science. If we let storytelling like this into the science curriculum, we instantly humanize science, make it relevant to the random child, and automatically make it seem more inviting, less hard.

    We can do this without watering down scientific rigor, with its canons of evidence that are justly the hallmark of scientific research, innovation, and progress."
    (Inside Science; retrieved April 13, 2010)

  • The story shows scientists at work.

    As true scientists know, scientists don't spend their days just thinking lofty thoughts. The work of science involves imagination, creativity, successes, and as many failures as any other career. But students don't often realize this. They deal with completed thoughts and theories and somehow don't understand the struggle through which they were created. The Blood Fever blog lets them experience this career virtually through the eyes of a young adult not unlike themselves. Through the blog entries, students come to see science as a way to look for answers to questions that have an immediate and personal impact.

  • The story humanizes the questions of climate change.

    Sometimes, students get the impression that helping the environment means following a set of rules (recycling, etc.) or getting others to follow a set of rules. In their rush to do what's best for the environment, they often forget to look at the reasons WHY the rules are there and what following them can do in the long term.

  • The Blood Fever blog shows students what's going on now and encourages them to gather knowledge and think about what we all can do in this situation. The blog shows how one person thought her way through a big issue and provides a pattern for others to do the same.

Ways to use the Blood Fever blog
  • On their Own A-Z After introducing students to the concepts of a blog and the questions of climate change (included on the "About Me" section on the first page), give students access to computers and allow them to proceed at their own pace through the story and its related digital assets. Schedule this activity to run for several days, devoting a certain portion of your class time to this activity. As students work, circulate around the room and observe, stopping to consult with students that need assistance.

  • At the end of each session, draw students together to talk about where they are and where they are going, what they have learned and what questions they still have, and any other ideas that this work has sparked.

  • Blog First, Assets Later Encourage students to review all the blog entries individually, either in or out of school. Use selected digital assets as a whole class activity (using a computer and projector). Ask students to explain how the asset informs the story: what information does it add to the story line? Track your classes' progress using a giant timeline of the blog posted in your room.

  • Teamwork Assemble teams of students to complete sections of the blog and its assets. After they have completed their work, hold a seminar on this question of climate change, asking each group to share what they have gained with the class.
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