Connecting Students to the Real-World of Healthcare

by Joe Sanchez, PhD MBA, Director of R&D Science Engagement at AstraZeneca

As kids continue to navigate the new school year, whether in-person or virtually, being aware of overlapping diseases and social realities has become more important than ever. Beyond the ever-present threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are 6.2 million children living with asthma in the United States alone. For these children, respiratory diseases like COVID-19 pose additional threats to a healthy life, and complications are everywhere – even from cleaning products, research finds.

Added to the mix are racial disparities related to respiratory illness. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows cases are up to 2.8x higher among people of color and that Black people, specifically, are 3x more likely to die of an asthma attack.

Opportunities exist to empower students to make health and science personal by connecting to these realities in the classroom.  Real-world, no-cost resources include those from Generation Health – a program from AstraZeneca, Learning Undefeated, and Discovery Education. This platform makes the connection between students’ health and the science behind the prevention and treatment of disease with standards-aligned experiential learning resources for students in grades 6-8.

Students and educators can kick off the conversation about preventative measures and innovative solutions to complicated topics, like asthma and COVID-19, with key resources such as:

ALL NEW “Air Quality and You” Digital Lesson Bundle:

  • Learn how air quality and noncommunicable diseases, such as asthma, can affect you and the people around us in three 45-minute sessions. Through this digital lesson, students will gain an understanding about how asthma causes symptoms that make breathing more difficult.

  • Students will also explore how substances in the environment can enter the body and how pollutants can trigger or exacerbate respiratory symptoms.

Escape the Pandemic Activity

  • In less than an hour, guide students (or have them direct their own learning!) to discover how scientists race around the clock to find a cure for a flu pandemic.

  • Through this real-world scenario, students will see how a virus spreads from person-to-person around the world and has the power to affect a very large number of people. By the end, students discover the health risks of influenzas and various ways to stop the spread of disease just in time for the start of flu season.

These digital lesson bundles are full of research-based resources and content designed to make anywhere learning fun and easy for the teacher and students. With Generation Health content in hand, educators can inspire students to consider STEM careers while learning together about critical healthcare topics.

Learn more at and on  the Generation Health channel in Discovery Education Experience.