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Viral Vaccines SARS-CoV-2

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Health Sciences Volunteer Activities
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Health Sciences Volunteer Activities
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Time Needed for Activity

Students learn about pandemics, coronaviruses and vaccines and then design a vaccine using information on the SARS-CoV-2 virus structure.

This activity takes students through what a pandemic is, information on coronaviruses, how to slow the spread, 2 hands on activities to show how hand washing and masks are effective, and then into why we have vaccines, what is a vaccine, and a bit on how they are developed (e.g., using killed virus, attenuated, nucleic acids, etc.). They are then taken through information on herd immunity and vaccines and design a vaccine using information on the SARS-CoV-2 virus structure and some research bits on adjuvants, etc. 

What You Need

For Each Student Teacher Kit
2 pieces of tinfoil 1 1/2 bottle of dish soap
Butter (a small pat of about 2 cm square and 1 cm thick) in tinfoil and a plastic baggie 1 small strainer
Small bits of elastics - the size of sprinkles - in a plastic baggie 1 pie plate per student
Small spoon 4 rolls of double-sided tape
1 piece of printer paper  
1 small spritzer bottle  
1 1/2 piece of paper towel  
1 of 4 tidbits of information that will help them with the design  

 

PowerPoint:

Lesson Plan:

Info Bits:

 

Safety Notes

As a Let’s Talk Science volunteer, safety must be foremost in our minds during all activities. As STEM role models, volunteers must always also model safe science practices.

Always keep in mind the following precautions:

  • Emphasize and demonstrate appropriate safety procedures throughout the presentation.
  • Be professional but have fun.
  • Keep workspaces clean to avoid tripping hazards.
  • Allergens should have been checked before reserving the kit (e.g., allergies to latex).

What To Do

Creating Virus Models:

Ask the educator to give each student a kit of materials if they haven’t already or to distribute the materials for this activity.

  1. First we’ll make our virus models. Take your two pieces of tinfoil which should be roughly the same size and make two balls. This is the part that carries the viruses' genetic information in the form of RNA or DNA.
  2. Take a piece of double-sided tape and wrap it tightly around one of the foil balls you made. Do this with 3 or 4 pieces in different places and do the same with the 2nd ball. What does the double sided tape mimic? [the protein shell or capsid with surrounds and protects the virus's RNA or DNA.]
  3. Roll one aluminum ball around in the small bits of elastics and press them gently onto the tape. What do the sprinkles represent? [proteins that a virus uses to attach to the outside of its host cell. In a non-enveloped virus, If those proteins are damaged, lost, or destroyed, the virus particle can no longer infect its host
  4. Take the second aluminum ball and cover with an even layer of butter all around and then roll in the sprinkles and press them gently. What does the butter represent? [lipid membrane that envelopes, or surrounds, the capsid of enveloped viruses. The fats in butter are a type of lipid similar to the lipids in virus envelops.]
  5. Let’s compare the two virus models. How are they similar or different? [one has the butter layer and one doesn’t] Looking at our virus models, which do you think represents which? [butter layer = enveloped virus (COVID-19 is an enveloped virus), just the tape - nonenveloped virus]
  6. Now drop both model viruses into the bowl with soapy water and swirl around gently so not to make bubbles, making sure that both models get wet with water from all sides.

Mask Testing:

Students need a spritzer bottle, a piece of paper towel, and a piece of printer paper.

  1. We’ll simulate a sneeze using a small spritzer bottle. Hold your bottle in one hand and paper in another about 30 cm or so apart and spray the bottle on one side of the paper.
  2. Make a little square/rectangle with the paper towel. This time put the paper towel in front of the sprayer and spray toward the other side of the paper. What do you notice?

Developing a Vaccine:

We want you to go back to your labs and create a vaccine candidate that will be effective against COVID-19. You will have 10 minutes to develop your vaccine. The class will decide whose vaccine is the ‘best’.

You have a drawing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the different types of proteins found on its surface. Your task is to design a vaccine against this virus, targeting one of the protein types. Think carefully of which protein you would like to target and why (TIP: consider what the protein’s function is and how accessible it is).

Ideally you will work in a group of 2-4 but each of you has a design sheet and could work independently if you choose.

Because travel is restricted and each group requires a flight to get to, you can choose to share this information with: only one other group/individual OR the whole class OR not share it. If you choose to share it with the class, we will post it on a slide for all to see.

If you choose to share it with one other group, you will have to figure out how to transmit it to the group without breaking physical distancing rules in the classroom. Once you share it with one group/individual you cannot share it with any other groups.

At the end of 10 minutes, we will come together for another conference and each group will present their creations. Vaccine components should be justified and refuted through group discussion.

Discovery

Investigate Further

As a last activity (if time permits), let’s see if you can order the steps we take from the bench (in the lab) to the bedside or clinics. Here we have scientists studying a virus called ‘ICV’ and they develop a vaccine against this virus, which they call “Anti-ICV”. But, there are many steps before the virus can be made available. Here are the steps for vaccine development in random order. Select the right, chronological order that each event would take place in. *Animations in slide reveal step by step the right one*

Investigate Further

As a last activity (if time permits), let’s see if you can order the steps we take from the bench (in the lab) to the bedside or clinics. Here we have scientists studying a virus called ‘ICV’ and they develop a vaccine against this virus, which they call “Anti-ICV”. But, there are many steps before the virus can be made available. Here are the steps for vaccine development in random order. Select the right, chronological order that each event would take place in. *Animations in slide reveal step by step the right one*

Resources

For more info: https://virologyj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12985-019-1182-0

PowerPoint:

Lesson Plan:

Info Bits: