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Best Instructional Videos: Pandemics Through the Years

When teaching about epidemics about pandemics in history, including visuals can help students undestand how serious these infectious diseases really were, and how although we have come a long way in terms of preventing and treating such illnesses, we still face challenges today.

Check out the related EducationWorld lesson plan Epidemics, Vaccines and Prevention.

To help educators tackle this tough science topic, EducationWorld has curated the following collection of videos introducing three pandemics that have seriously impacted people at different points in history. In addition to a description of each video, we include a suggested grade level and note the video's capacity for student engagement ("cool factor"). 

Smallpox: An infectious disease caused by one or two viral variants, causing a terrible rash to break out on victims' skin.

Edward Jenner and Smallpox

Source:  YouTube

Grade Level:  6-12

Run Time:  1:30

Description:  The video is one of ten educational videos about Edward Jenner and his efforts, which led to the eradication of one of the most deadly pandemics of all time. 

Cool Factor:  This is a short, educational video with a definite gross-out factor. Teachers should be advised that graphic images may make students uncomfortable. 


The Black Death (Bubonic Plague):  A disease that spread throughout Europe and killed 75 million people. Rats carried the disease, and the infected were overcome with fever, unable to keep food down, and in terrible pain from black boils that oozed blood and pus.

Black Death


Grade Level:  6-12

Run Time:  2:37

Description:  In this video, viewers will learn history and facts regarding the Bubonic Plague, commonly known as the Black Death.

Cool Factor:  The video is short and provides a lot of information about the plague. Students will be interested to hear the story as well as see actors portray those who were infected in the 14th century.


The Spanish Flu:  The Spanish Flu of 1918 infected 500 million people and was one of two pandemics involving the H1N1 virus. The flu killed 50 to 100 million people and became one of the deadliest in human history. 

Spanish Flu Disaster

Source:  YouTube

Grade Level:  6-12

Run Time:  5:57

Description:  Learn about the deadly pandemic that infected 500 million people around the world. 

Cool Factor:  Students will find this documentary informative. A little longer than the rest, this documentary has cool effects, interesting commentary and more.

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor
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