October 6, 2011 in Protein

On Monday, February 11th, 2008, the students in Mrs Shuster’s third grade class at École F.A.C.E. School were infected by the presentation by university students Jesse Trubiano (BFA Art Education, Concordia U.) and David Sabatino (PhD. McGill ’07, PDF, U. Montréal), as they learned about antibodies the “Protein of Life” in our third Molecules of Life Project (MLP) in Montreal.

Jesse and David introduced us first to antigens (i.e. germs, bacteria and pollen) as they presented the immune system and explained the importance of washing our hands before eating.

To demonstrate how quickly germs spread in the absence of hygiene, David guided two volunteers in experiments using sets of agar plates (Petri dishes containing the essential nutrients required to culture bacteria). One student washed carefully her hands before touching the plate labeled “clean”. The other student shook hands with 5 other students before touching the plate labeled “infected”. The plates were covered and stored in a dark warm place for the class to examine over the span of a week, to see what happens.


To illustrate the spread of germs and the importance of immunity to help prevent infection, the students were next given envelopes containing colored cards and asked to trade cards with one another for 2 minutes. Although most students were instructed that they could not refuse a trade, those students having a white “immunity” card were told that they could refuse exchanges of the white card. Once the time had elapsed, the children returned to their desks, examined their cards and those with a red card were asked to go to the back of the room, because they were infected with a cold germ. Those who also possessed a white card were told they could sit back down because they had immunity. The rest were asked to act out the symptoms of a cold until given purple “medicine” cards to cure their illness.



Jesse and David then distributed the “Immune System Comic Book featuring Antibodies” and the students were guided through the immune system as they took turns around the classroom reading about antigens, B-cells, antibodies and white blood cells, as well as the importance of vaccinations and hygiene.

Antibodies were presented as the guard dogs of the immune system.

Finally, as the students colored in the comic book, we discussed the Y-shape of antibodies and how the arms of the Y serve to specifically recognize different germs.


Mimicking antibodies all raised their arms in a Y shape to thank team antibody for an important MLP lesson on what it takes to stay safe from infectious germs.



For reviews of the immune system see:


For an animation on how the immune system works: