NoroCORE’s outreach activities also extend to participating in K-12 education outreach. Recently, collaborators from NCSU and NCCU presented a norovirus workshop called “Outbreak! Attack of the Norovirus!” for NC educators. NoroCORE collaborators Dr. Lynette Johnston, of NCSU, and Dr. Carla Oldham and Ms. Betty Brown of NCCU, presented the workshop to 25 participating educators from NC middle and high schools. The NCCU Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) facility hosted the workshop on August 8, 2012.
The workshop focused on a general understanding of viruses, as well as the implications of norovirus on food safety. It created a cruise ship scenario of a norovirus outbreak, during which the “passengers” worked their way through interactive learning stations that highlighted the properties of viruses and how they differ from bacteria; how viruses replicate; the symptoms and transmission routes of norovirus; and food safety practices to prevent foodborne illnesses. The workshop included a hands-on laboratory exercise focused on norovirus detection.
The workshop was very well received- the majority of teachers agreed that the workshop was a valuable use of class time, was accessible to students of varying abilities and learning styles, and fit well with the learning objectives of the various courses they teach. They were particularly pleased with the balance of information to hands-on activities in the workshop, the skit-style framework for the outbreak model, and specific aspects of the information content (particularly the distinction between viruses and bacteria). The teachers were also very pleased with the materials provided to allow them to conduct the activities in their own classrooms.