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SMITHSONIAN’S NEW COVID GUIDE FOR YOUTH AGES 8-17 AND IT IS FREE

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Diane Scavuzzo

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Smithsonian Science Education Center With Support of the World Health Organization Launches New COVID-19 Guide for Youth

COVID-19! How can I protect myself and others?


The Smithsonian Science Education Center, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP)—a partnership of 140 national academies of science, engineering, and medicine—has developed “COVID-19! How can I protect myself and others?” a new rapid-response guide for youth ages 8–17.

Available in more than 15 languages, the COVID-19! How can I protect myself and others is free.

COVID-19! How Can I Protect Myself and Others? will help people understand the science of the virus that causes COVID-19 and other viruses like it.

More of an educational tool than a handout for kids to look at and learn, the COVID-19! How can I protect myself and others? is a great source of materials for teachers, educators, parents, and coaches to use to help explain what is happening in our world, and what kids can do about it and why.

The guide’s goal is to help kids and teenagers understand what you need to do to try to stay safe.
By asking and answering questions, the guide helps explain what is happening on a global as well as local level. Here are four of the seven questions covered in the COVID-19! How can I protect myself and others?

  • What is happening in the world right now?
  • How can keeping distance from others help?
  • How can covering our noses and mouths help protect us?
  • How can washing our hands help protect us?


Through a set of these seven cohesive student-led Q7As, participants engage in the activities to answer questions previously defined by their peers. The questions explore the impact of COVID-19 on the world, how to practice hand and respiratory hygiene and physical distancing, and how to research more information about COVID-19.

The guide helps young people understand the science and social science of COVID-19 and know what to do.
The final task teaches youth how they can take action on the new scientific knowledge they learn to improve their health and the health of others.

Each task is designed to be completed at home.

The educational guide on COVID-19 includes updated research, activities, quotes from scientists and frontline public health officials, and physical and emotional safety tips on COVID-19. It also integrates inquiry-based science education with social and emotional learning and civic engagement.

“We are immensely grateful to WHO, the IAP, our colleagues at the Smithsonian and other senior project advisors and translators for their perspectives and technical support in ensuring the science is accurate,” said Carol O’Donnell, director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center. “We are also grateful to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for their support during the development of this module. This work represents the power of collaboration and working closely with others across the globe, even during a time of physical distancing.”

“Through this project, the Smithsonian Science Education Center makes science exciting and approachable for children and youth all over the world and encourages them to learn by doing” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at WHO. “With all the myths and misconceptions out there, it is important for children and youth to understand the nature of this pandemic and what can be done to prevent future pandemics from happening,”

“It is so important for children—wherever they are in the world—to develop their scientific understanding and rational thinking,” said Professor Volker ter Meulen, president of IAP. “Only by being able to make rational decisions based on the best science and evidence can any of us adjust our behavior to keep ourselves and our families safe from infections such as COVID-19.”

The Smithsonian Science Education Center will disseminate the information to youth worldwide in collaboration with WHO, IAP, educators, and museum and research center networks.

The Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) is transforming K–12 Education Through Science in collaboration with communities across the globe. The SSEC is nationally and internationally recognized for the quality of its programs and its impact on K–12 science education.

Did you know … World Health Organization

The World Health Organization provides global leadership in public health within the United Nations system. Founded in 1948, WHO works with 194 Member States, across six regions to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.


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