Directions for teachers:

Use the online Science News articles “This COVID-19 pandemic timeline shows how fast the coronavirus took over our lives” and “As 2020 comes to an end, here’s what we still don’t know about COVID-19,” as well as the prompts below to have students reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic with a partner in class or with a family member at home. As a final exercise, have students read at least one expert interview highlighted in the online Science News article “Hear from people taking action against COVID-19.” Versions of these stories appear in the December 19, 2020 & January 2, 2021 issue of Science News. Students should interview their partners, write up their answers to the five questions and create their own “Voices from the pandemic” entry. You can share your top three student responses to the Science News for Students and Educators Edmodo group.

Want to make it a virtual lesson? Post the online Science News articles,“This COVID-19 pandemic timeline shows how fast the coronavirus took over our lives,” “As 2020 comes to an end, here’s what we still don’t know about COVID-19” and “Hear from people taking action against COVID-19,” to your learning management system. Pair up students and allow them to connect via virtual breakout rooms in a video conference, over the phone, in a shared document or using another chat system. Have each student submit their “Voices from the pandemic” entry to you.

Pandemic timeline

Read the online Science News article “This COVID-19 pandemic timeline shows how fast the coronavirus took over our lives,” then use the following questions to discuss the timeline of events with a partner or a family member. Make sure your partner has had the opportunity to read the article as well. A version of this story, “A year of living with the virus,” appears in the December 19, 2020 & January 2, 2021 issue of Science News.

1. What types of events are included in the timeline? How do events during the early months of the pandemic compare with later months?

Types of events include the locations of initial reported infections, total infections and fatalities, treatment and vaccine information, and state-wide orders. In the early months of the pandemic, the events trace the virus’s discovery and spread across the globe. As the year progresses, the events are related to growing numbers of infections and deaths, as well as developments around treatments and vaccines. 

2. What three adjectives best summarize your reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic timeline?     

Student answers will vary but might include words like exponential, global, fast, scary, etc.

3. Are there any events in the timeline that surprise you? If so, explain.

Student answers will vary.

4. What sources do you use to keep up with pandemic news? Do you notice any discrepancies between your prior knowledge of events and the information presented in the timeline? If so, why might the timeline differ from your memory of events?   

Student answers will vary, but students may mention that their prior knowledge of a specific event differs from the timeline because they missed new information about the event that was reported after it happened.

5. Add at least three events to the timeline that reflect what you know of your community’s local response to the pandemic. How do your events compare with the national and global events mentioned? Explain.

Student answers will vary.

Unanswered questions

Discuss and list two questions you have about the COVID-19 pandemic with your partner or family member. Suggest strategies for how scientists could address your questions.

Question 1:

Question 2:

Student answers will vary. Students may ask how long immunity to COVID-19 lasts, and suggest that to find out, scientists and public health officials should recruit and monitor over time several groups of people who have recovered from COVID-19. The groups should be as large and diverse as possible to ensure a wide sample set. Scientists should test the groups regularly for the coronavirus and the antibodies that indicate immunity. This testing may have to go on for a long time, until a conclusion can be confidently reached. Other questions could include: When will the pandemic end? Why do only certain people exhibit symptoms and get sick? What are the long-term consequences of contracting COVID-19? How effective will a vaccine be? How long will immunity last?


Looking for answers
Read the online Science News article “As 2020 comes to an end, here’s what we still don’t know about COVID-19,” and answer the following questions. A version of this story, “Lingering questions about COVID-19,” appears in the December 19, 2020 & January 2, 2021 issue of Science News.

1. How do your questions compare with the questions covered in the Science News article? Did you ask a question that was covered in the Science News article?

Student answers will vary, but students could mention that one or both of their questions are also given in the article. For example, students might ask how long immunity to COVID-19 lasts, which was addressed in the Science News article.

2. If either of your questions were covered in the Science News article, did the article cover proposed strategies for how to answer the question? How does your proposed strategy compare with what scientists are doing? Based on the information given in the article, about how close are scientists and officials to answering the question?

Student answers will vary. If students asked how long immunity to COVID-19 lasts, their answer may mention that studies to determine the likelihood of reinfection are underway, but the article does not suggest a timeframe for determining an answer or give specific suggestions about how the study should collect data. The article also states that some information about COVID-19 immunity could possibly be gained by collecting data from other types of coronavirus infections, such as SARS and MERS. Currently, the duration of immunity after an infection of a coronavirus that causes SARS and MERS is also unknown. 

Share your voices

Read at least one expert interview highlighted in the online Science News article “Hear from people taking action against COVID-19.” Some interviews appear in the December 19, 2020 & January 2, 2021 issue of Science News as “Voices from the pandemic.” Then, use the following questions to interview your partner or a family member about their own pandemic experience. Use the answers to write a “Voices from the pandemic” entry about your partner or family member. Once you’ve interviewed your partner or family member, they should interview and write an entry about you.

1. What is your name? Where do you live and what do you do?

2. How has the pandemic changed your life?

3. What do you miss about your old life?

4. How do you think your life will be different six months from now? Do you think you will have resumed hobbies and activities that you enjoyed before the pandemic? What do you think the next school year will look like?

5. What hopes do you have for the end of the pandemic and your life afterward?

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