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Hay fever

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Interactive teaching
Topic: Immune system

The hay fever season brings misery to many. This activity begins with a stunning image of pollen and dust caught on cilia and mucus in the windpipe. Students then find out why pollen causes hay fever - a different context for studying the lungs and breathing. Finally, students match allergic responses to avoidance strategies and treatments.

This UPD8 activity is produced in partnership with the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) and Visions of Science.

Published: 4th January 2005
Reviews & Comments: 5

Learning objectives

To stimulate interest in lung and immune system function.

Try the activity

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11 - 14 (KS3)
Hay fever

Respiration QCA 8b - gas exchange happens in the lungs, which are specialized organs.

Fit and Healthy QCA 9b - ciliated epithelial cells in the airways are specialised for moving fluid.

Cells QCA 7a - ciliated epithelial cells as examples of specialized cells
Microbes and Disease 8c - the production of antibodies in the blood are part of the body's defence system.

Running the activity

Suggested time: 20 minutes

Possible starter: Display the picture of pollen grains stuck to ciliated epithelial cells in the windpipe (page 1) and ask what the illustration shows. For maximum impact, have the picture on the screen as students enter the room. This page can be projected or printed onto transparency.

Main activity: Display page 2, which explains the picture on page 1. Get students to discuss the questions at the bottom of the page, which are about allergies students might have come across.
Display and explain page 3. This is a diagram showing - in a simplified way - how the allergic response arises.

Possible plenary: Give small groups the cards on page 4. Ask students to match each allergy with preventative measures and treatments. This activity partly reinforces the work completed earlier, and also encourages students to explore knowledge learned in other contexts.

News links

A simple account of allergies and their treatment for younger readers.
Fighting allergies
Articles about combating all the major allergies.
Asthma and allergies
Comprehensive but easy to read site from the Canadian Lung Foundation with information about asthma and allergies.

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?

Asthma and Allergies

Dec 17th, 2013

5 Star

Very useful resource.

Reviewer: Charles Morrison


Jul 5th, 2010

5 Star

I tried this activity today with a low abiltity Year 10 group. the group was fully engaged as a number of the students suffer from hayfever, but did not really understand why. I have never seen the whole group so engaged. I extended the activity and asked them to produce an information leaflet like they see a surgery. The results were some of the best work they have produced. We also had a very interesting group discussion about allergies in general. An excellent lesson in my opinion and one enjoyed by ALL the students.

Reviewer: Jo Christopher


May 18th, 2007

5 Star

A nice little activity that filled in 20 minutes!

very apt as we all start to sniffle and provided a nice point of human contact betwenn me and some of the class!

Reviewer: Stephen Brian

Day After Tomorrow

Feb 7th, 2007

5 Star

Excellent resource. My year 9's thoroughly enjoyed this actvity and so did I. It was with a year 9 class of Grammar School Boys, so it took about 15 minutes but it was a very dynamic addition to my lesson and the boys loved it

Reviewer: Margaret McBean

Hayfever and other topics

Mar 20th, 2005

5 Star

The topics and the presentation are excellent. I shall certainly use them in school exhibition.
Joozar Sharafali
Head of Science Dept.
Yemen International High School, Sanna, Yemen.

Reviewer: joozar sharafali