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09 October 2011

Flu Season

Open Culture reminded us a few days ago that the flu season is just around the corner for us here in the Northern Hemisphere, i.e., here in Zug.

Text from the YouTube page:

Uploaded by  on Oct 23, 2009
"When you get the flu, viruses turn your cells into tiny factories that help spread the disease. In this animation, NPR's Robert Krulwich and medical animator David Bolinsky explain how a flu virus can trick a single cell into making a million more viruses."
See and hear the rest of the story on NPR.org:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=114075029

This made me curious about other web sites with information about the flu.  I found this video which is not so imaginative, but offers some practical advice:

What is ‘flu? - Explania

These web pages offer good advice, too:

KidsHealth  ("TeensHealth is part of the KidsHealth family of websites. These sites, run by the nonprofit Nemours Center for Children's Health Media, provide accurate, up-to-date health information that's free of "doctor speak.")

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention - a page about handwashing
"Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. "
and a page about "Cover your Cough"
"Stop the spread of germs that can make you and others sick!
Influenza (flu) and other serious respiratory illnesses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands."

Flu and Cold Prevention Tips for keeping your family healthy.

  • Washing hands is the best way to prevent illness.
  • Baby wipes are not strong enough to kill germs.
  • Teach your child to cough or sneeze into her sleeve.
  • Don’t send your child to school with a fever, stomach flu or if she is feeling ill.
  • Everyone over the age of six months should get a flu shot.
When you search the internet for information about a topic like "flu" -  a very generic term, a popular topic, and one about which people want information and want to publicize their own opinions, it's difficult to sort the fact from the folklore.  I searched for what is the flu, using the advanced search tools to limit results to a "basic reading level" and pages posted within the last year. Even with those limitations, there were still 60,900,000 results! By putting what is the flu in quotation marks ("what is the flu"), the results were limited to 486. This list was much easier to sort through!

I decided to try the same search on some of the search engines linked to our Online Library page, to see if it would be easier, or there would be more reliable results, on the search engines created with young children in mind.
This is what I found on Ask Jeeves for Kids, Duck Duck Go, and Kid Rex (clik on the image to open it full size):
Screen shot of  results on Ask Jeeves for Kids 
Screen shot from results at  KidRex
Screen shot of results from DuckDuckGo

All the sites returned reliable information, but my vote for favorite goes to Duck Duck Go, because of the refined search options ("Search Ideas") listed on the right of the screen.

This last video is for the Middle Primary Class, which often begins a unit of inquiry on Sesame Street. Their videos offer a precise, easy to understand presentation of the Big Idea behind many of the concepts we're interested in.