Introduction to Viruses


Viruses are the smallest creatures known, yet they have the power to infect every living thing. The word virus comes from the Greek ios meaning poison. A virus is a parasite taking the cell's enzymes to survive. Most viruses are very small and need to be viewed through an electron microscope. Viruses are measured nanometers. (A nanometer is about 1/25th millionth of an inch.) Viruses can be categorized into three different shapes: helical, polyhedral and complex. Helical-shaped viruses are rod-shaped while polyhedral-shaped viruses are spherical with triangular faces, much like a soccer ball. Complex viruses have complicated structures. Some may have a combination of helical and polyhedral shapes. The genetic makeup of a virus is carried in its nucleic acid. Unlike other cells, viruses only will carry DNA or RNA in its nucleic acid, not both. Although viruses cause illness and disease for living things on our planet, there are some viruses that can be beneficial. Use our school databases to learn more background information on viruses before you begin to research your specific topic.
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Final work must be typed and at least 2-3 pages in length. Be sure to include a cover page and a picture of the virus.

Information to include in your project:
1. Explain what your topic is about and why people should be made aware of it.

2. Explain how the virus is transmitted as well as possible cures.

3. Write about the virus's danger or benefits to the community.

4. Include a poster that illustrates your research project with visuals and color to demonstrate why your subject is relevant.

5. Use the following question prompts to help you research your topic:

  • What is (my virus)?
  • How common is (my virus)?
  • How do people get (my virus)?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of (my virus)?
  • How is (my virus) diagnosed?
  • Is there a link between (my virus) and other diseases?
  • What is the treatment for (my virus)?
  • Will (my virus) recur?
  • How can (my virus) be prevented?
  • Where can I get more information about (my virus)?

Possible Research Topics
Botulism Influenza Avian Flu Tularemia Polio Salmonella E. coli SARS Bubonic Plague Legionnaires' Disease Dysentery Rhinovirus Malaria Meningitis Mad Cow Disease Pneumococcus Pneumonia Ebola West Nile Virus Herpes Simplex Virus Helicobacter pylori Encephalitis Cholera Hantavirus Smallpox Tuberculosis Streptococcus Syphilis HIV/Aids Hepatitis Chickenpox Rabies Common Cold Measles
Beginning Your Research
Locating general information: Use the databases located on our library web page to find general information on viruses as well as specific information on your particular virus.
Locating specific information: Use the library catalog to locate non-fiction and reference resources on your topic.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Web MD
Health Finder
Mayo Clinic
Medline Plus
Merck Manuals Online Medical Library
World Health Organization
Virus World

Seventh-grade Science Standards
Cell Biology
1. All living organisms are composed of cells, from just one to many trillions, whose details usually are visible only through a microscope. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students know cells function similarly in all living organisms.
b. Students know the characteristics that distinguish plant cells from animal cells, including chloroplasts and cell walls.
c. Students know the nucleus is the repository for genetic information in plant and animal cells.
d. Students know that mitochondria liberate energy for the work that cells do and that chloroplasts capture sunlight energy for photosynthesis.
e. Students know cells divide to increase their numbers through a process of mitosis, which results in two daughter cells with identical sets of chromosomes.
f. Students know that as multicellular organisms develop, their cells differentiate.

Information Literacy Standards

1.2 Knows Parts of a Book and Digital Resources
1.2.2 Identifies parts of a book: table of contents, publisher, page numbers, copyright date, and call number
1.2.5 Identifies online terms and their uses (e.g., home page, Web page, URL, responsibility statement, search engine)
1.7 Uses Digital Resources to Access Information
1.7.3 Uses databases (e.g., cd-ROMs, online free and fee-based services) for school use
1.9 Uses a Developmentally Appropriate Research Process to Access Information
1.9.1 Identifies a problem or question that needs information
1.9.2 Uses pre-search strategies such as brainstorming, mapping, and recalling of prior knowledge
1.9.3 Identifies and uses keywords to find specific information
1.9.4 Uses keywords and controlled vocabulary to develop search statements for use with databases, search engines, digital books, and other digital sources and formats
1.9.5 Formulates questions that define the scope of the investigation
1.9.6 Selects a topic, focuses the investigation and gathers information in order to construct a meaningful final product
1.9.7 Uses Dewey call numbers to locate books in areas of interest or to explore topics in depth
1.9.8 Selects and reads familiar and unfamiliar material independently
1.9.9 Uses a variety of print and digital reference material (e.g., dictionary, almanac, thesaurus,atlas, encyclopedia, and periodicals) to locateinformation
1.9.10 Uses title, table of contents, chapter headings, and navigation elements to locate information in books and digital resources
1.9.11 Uses subheadings to locate information in nonfiction resources
1.9.12 Obtains information from illustrations, photographs, charts, graphs, maps, and tables
1.9.13 Uses scanning and skimming skills to locate relevant information
1.9.14 Continues to show growth in selection of sources and formats for educational and personal use
1.9.15 Uses cross references (see, see also) to locate relevant information
1.9.16 Identifies bibliographic references
1.9.17 Uses bibliographies in books and digital resources to access information beyond the immediate source and school library media collection
1.9.18 Uses a variety of print and digital information resources to facilitate research
1.9.19 Uses advanced and specialized reference books and digital resources
1.9.20 Identifies and uses computer icons and program menus to search for information (e.g., locates an index, navigates a subject tree, accesses a help screen)
1.9.21 Refines search strategies for research projects
1.9.22 Selects and uses a variety of appropriate media to access information for assignments
1.9.23 Records author, title and other citation elements systematically while accessing information sources
2.3 Selects Relevant Information during the Research Process
2.3.1 Understands that notetaking is a tool for information processing (e.g., remembering, comparing, analyzing, and sequencing)
2.3.2 Selects and records relevant information, organizing notes in a format appropriate to the task
2.3.3 Restates facts and details to clarify and organize ideas for notetaking standard