Flusurvey, run by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, has teamed up with the British Science Association to monitor the spread of the flu virus in schools at a national level for the first time.
Young people are being encouraged to become ‘citizen scientists’ by signing up to the survey and sharing data about how they feel every week. The project will provide critical insight into the spread of flu and engage young people first-hand in science.
Involvement in this project will give students the opportunity to become ‘disease detectives’, analysing genuine scientific data showing the volume of flu cases and factors affecting its transmission during National Science & Engineering Week 2014. Where sufficient responses are available, schools will be able to access and examine data related to their local area of event their own school.
The project comes at a time when surveillance of flu among young people is of particular importance. Flusurvey findings from 2012-2013 revealed the under-18 age group had the highest rates of flu and on average took three days off school to recover. This year sees the roll out of a new NHS childhood flu vaccination campaign, aiming to reduce flu virus transmission by children – the ‘key spreaders’ of flu.
Teachers will have access to ‘Join the Flu Fight!’ learning resources that include interactive activity ideas and lesson plans to help students understand what flu is, how it spreads and how survey findings can be interpreted and presented. Participating schools can also benefit from various incentives which are detailed on the project’s website at www.britishscienceassociation.org/flusurvey. Every school that has at least 30 students fill in at least five weeks of symptoms surveys will receive a customised dataset for analysis during National Science & Engineering Week.
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Image: Dr Alma Adler discussing Flusurvey on Newsround 13 Nov 2013. Credit: BBC