Grade: Elementary

#4214. Health: From the U.S.-Mexican War to Today

Social Studies, level: Elementary
Posted Tue Aug 12 11:03:28 PDT 2008 by Karen Weaver (Karen Weaver).
Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site
Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site, Brownsville, Texas, USA
Materials Required: Butcher paper
Activity Time: 30 minutes
Concepts Taught: Students will study health and hygiene throughout history to explain how preventive health measures

1. Tell students that during the U.S.-Mexican War, more soldiers died of disease than of battle wounds.
2. Tell the students that they are all soldiers who died in the U.S.-Mexican War. Have 70% of the class stand up. Tell students that those standing died of disease and those sitting died in combat or because of battle wounds.
3. Tell students that Army surgeons told the soldiers four ways to avoid disease:
o Drink water upstream from where you use the bathroom
o Bury garbage
o Avoid mosquitoes
o Take bathes
4. Tell students that this advice was medical technology in 1846.
5. Have students create a Venn diagram comparing/contrasting the medical technology during the U.S.-Mexican War with methods we have today. Help students with the first item (e.g., Take a bath is in both the 1846 and Today circles; Vaccinations is only in the Today circle.)
6. Divide students into four groups (Option: Have a class discussion). Give each group a large piece of butcher paper and one of the following questions:
o Why should soldiers drink water upstream from where they used the bathroom?
o Why should soldiers bury their garbage?
o Why should soldiers avoid mosquitoes?
o Why should soldiers take a lot of bathes?
7. Tell students to include on their paper
o How their particular health practice stops disease
o Which specific diseases it prevents
o What preventative medicine or technology we use today to stop these illnesses
o Picture of the health practice the soldiers used and a picture of the health practice we use today
8. Have students present their findings to the rest of the class.
9. Ask students: Why is it important that soldiers stay healthy?
10. Have a class discussion on modern health tips to avoid infection and disease (e.g., always wash your hands after using the bathroom, keep up to date with vaccinations, use insect repellent, etc.)