Malaria and the Mosquito

Malaria and the Mosquito
Lucretia Garfield: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: Three to four class periods


In May of 1881, just after the Garfields had moved into the White House, Lucretia became very ill, with a disease called malaria.  Although it is very unusual for anyone in temperate climates such as the United States to contract malaria, the disease is a world-wide problem for many, and efforts are currently underway to eradicate the disease wherever possible.


Students who participate in this activity will learn about malaria, the role played by the anopheles mosquito in its transmission, and current efforts to eradicate the disease in Africa, through the creation of a short Malaria Handbook.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet; access to print materials about malaria, the anopheles mosquito, and world-wide efforts to eradicate the disease; art supplies; paper and pens or paper and word processors; PowerPoint programs (optional).


Introduce the lesson by asking students if anyone has ever had a mosquito bite.  Most students will probably respond in the affirmative.  Ask further what mosquito bites are like; students will probably respond with words like “itching,” “red,” and “bumpy.”  Then tell them that some kinds of mosquitoes, in certain parts of the world, carry a parasite that causes a really bad disease called malaria.
Announce that the job of the class will be to develop an informational “Malaria Handbook” that can be used to educate people about the disease and to help prevent the spread of malaria.
Divide the class into the following four groups: 
  • Group 1 – will have responsibility for researching and writing the section of the Handbook on the nature of malaria—how the disease presents itself, what symptoms it has, how long it lasts, how serious it is, etc.
  • Group 2 – will have responsibility for researching and writing the section of the Handbook on the geographical distribution of malaria, where is it most likely to occur, how it affects the populations who contract it, etc.
  • Group 3 – will have responsibility for researching and writing the section of the Handbook on the anopheles mosquito—its characteristics and the mechanism by which it carries and infects human with the malaria parasite.
  • Group 4 – will have responsibility for researching and writing the section of the Handbook on current efforts to prevent, and in some cases, eradicate the disease.  Who is involved in this effort, what are they doing, and how successful are they in their efforts?
When the research and writing are completed, provide time for students to share the findings of their research.  Students may create PowerPoints for such sharing if the technology is available.  Encourage students to include their own drawings and maps as well as written exposition in their sections of the Handbook. 
Conclude the lesson by compiling all sections into a single Handbook and discussing the world-wide malaria situation.  Ask students whether they now believe that malaria can be controlled or eradicated world-wide. Have them support their belief with their own research.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson may be extended by having students share their research with the whole school, or by expanding the research into other diseases that are major problems in various part of the world.

Sources & Resources:

      Malaria on Wikipedia      

      FAQs About Malaria 

      Anopheles Mosquitoes I

      Anopheles Mosquitoes II 

      Gates Foundation Makes Grants to Defeat Malaria 

      Malaria in Africa
This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.