Protists: Helpful or Harmful? (AIG IRP)

Lesson Overview

Brief Description of Lesson/Task/Activity: Within the life science strand of 7th grade science, students focus on the processes, structures, and functions of living organisms that enable them to survive, reproduce, and carry out the basic functions of life.  Often, other living organisms’ need to perform life functions interacts positively/ interferes negatively with humans’ life functions.  In this task, students will research protists’ interactions with humans for an online news website.  Students will compose non-fiction essays that relate the positive aspects of protists. The real-world and interdisciplinary aspects of this lesson allow students to build meaningful connections and promote the development of 21st Century Skills.

Time Frame: 2 class periods (120 minutes)

Type of Differentiation for AIGs:

  • Enrichment

Adaptations for AIGs:

  • Content
  • Process
  • Product

Explanation of How Resource is Appropriate for AIGs: AIG students in the middle grades need to develop evaluative skills when exposed to informational text. Students also need to develop a balanced approach to science topics that are not easily placed in “this or that” categories. Finally, written arguments based on evidence are a necessary skill in advanced courses (AP sciences, etc.), so this opportunity will benefit AIG students.

Needed Resources/Materials:

  • Article on Brain-Eating Amoebas or other protist-caused disease
  • Computer with internet and printer access
  • Rubric to evaluate final position paper

Sources: “Brain Eating Amoebas Blames in Three Deaths” at

Teacher Notes: Choose the article you present for the engagement activity carefully.  Several internet articles are written from a parent/family’s point of view and could be too emotional for students. 

If students do not have experience with citing information sources, consider spending some time demonstrating where different pieces of this information can be found on various websites.  Also, consider allowing all students to use a reference generator like “Son of Citation Maker” at to improve student compliance with citing sources.