5 Engaging Ways to Teach Students About Diabetes

Anjaney Kothari

5 Engaging Ways to Teach Students About Diabetes

More than 500 million people around the world currently have diabetes. The shockingly high prevalence of this metabolic disorder today is reason enough for students to learn about it.

But diabetes is a complex multifactorial disease involving genetic as well as environmental factors. Learning about diabetes means learning about pancreas, insulin, dietary influences, diabetes-induced kidney damage, blood sugar management, and a lot more.

For an educator, covering the breadth and depth of diabetes as a topic requires a creative coalescence of engaging ideas. Here, we list five ways to condense diabetes into an engaging lesson for your students.

1. Engage Students with Interactive Models

It is important to teach students the role of insulin and insulin intolerance in diabetes. But teaching about hormones such as insulin can be challenging because they rarely work alone. There are always a host of other factors, such as membrane proteins, that come into play.

The best way to teach students the complex loop that is insulin activity is to use interactive models. These could be in the form of animations that show exactly how the pancreas work and how the body’s cells absorb glucose. There could even be interactive flow diagrams that take the student through every element of the insulin signaling pathway. Interactive models like these can serve as a useful memory aid for students to store complicated concepts in their minds.

2. Make the Topic Fun with Games and Activities

Diabetes is an important yet somewhat morbid topic to teach in a classroom, especially when discussing its clinical aspects. It might be a good idea to employ some games and activities to transform diabetes education into an interesting exercise.

Take Labster’s diabetes simulation, for instance. This immersive activity virtually takes the students inside the body as a sugary donut makes its way through the gut. Students learn about glucose absorption and insulin, and what happens when things go haywire – at close quarters through a simulation.

3. Accelerate Learning by Incorporating Technology

Teaching a topic like diabetes succinctly yet effectively requires that educators start sharing a part of their job with technology. Incorporating technologies like augmented reality, virtual labs, and simulations can accelerate students’ learning by a large factor.

Labster’s diabetes simulation, for example, covers everything about diabetes. From type I and type II diabetes to the biology of insulin and blood sugar. From disease diagnosis to using a glucometer and administering an insulin injection. The simulation covers everything in under 32 min, but helps retain the knowledge for a lot longer than conventional methods.

Discover Labster's Diabetes virtual lab today!

4. Inspire Students Through Career Exploration

Scientists are attacking diabetes from so many different perspectives that numerous professions rely on a fundamental knowledge of the disease. Learning about diabetes opens up innumerable career opportunities where professionals get to work to alleviate this problem. Explore these career options with your students so they get inspired to study diabetes.

Tell your students how endocrinology nurses regularly check their patients’ blood glucose levels and administer insulin shots. Tell them how nutritionists and dieticians guide numerous diabetic patients on pursuing a healthy diet that can ease their symptoms. Discuss with them how tissue engineers are developing a bioartificial pancreas to treat type I diabetes.

5. Connect Topic to Real-World Scenarios

Most of us have likely had a brush with diabetes – perhaps a grandparent, an uncle, or some distant relative with the disease. Diabetes is such a ubiquitous disease today that connecting it to a real-world scenario is an easy task. Use these connections to real-world scenarios to create teachable moments for your students.

Talk to your students about their experience with a diabetic patient. Tell them how the ability to measure blood glucose levels and administer insulin shots could be a useful life-skill. Inspire them to take a healthy diet and regular exercise to protect themselves from diabetes. Such discussions will forge an unbreakable connection between the students and the subject matter.

Final thoughts

It is not tough to inspire students to study and understand a rapidly growing metabolic disease. What is tough is to cover this enormous topic in a way that does justice to its significance and complexity. The methods we have discussed here inspire and engage students while highlighting the significance and easing the complexity of diabetes. 

Try our free 30-day All Access Educator's Pass today and play the Diabetes simulation alongside 300+ other virtual labs!
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