Can My Tree Catch the Flu?


Activity Description: 

This series of [4] activities helps increase youth awareness of Sudden Oak Death (SOD), a tree disease that has had devastating effects on oak populations in California. To provide an analogy to how a tree catches this disease, participants are introduced to a familiar situation – catching the flu. All activities were initially developed for a middle-school level audience but may easily be adapted to other ages and levels. The activities are interactive and engaging for the learner.


Learners will understand how germs (human pathogens and plant pathogens, especially Sudden Oak Death) multiply and spread via various means.  They will also understand how a tree's tissues are similar to a human's in function, and how trees can get sick.

Pre-Activity Prep: 
  • Gather materials necessary for the activities
  • Prepare moldy bread sample (if doing this activity)
Doing the Activity: 

Instructors can choose to do one or all four of the short activities presented.  Example plans for completing the four activities in an hour-long class period and as an exhibit with stations are presented.

  • Aerosol spray bottles with water
  • AV equipment: laptop, projector, extension cords, screen
  • Clay
  • 2 dark surfaces that do not absorb water (tray, plate, hand etc.) OR two pre-sprayed and dried trays for aerosol demonstration.
  • Display board for germ activity
  • Extra bread, plastic bags, and permanent marker for individual moldy bread experiments
  • Foot disinfectant mat
  • Glow-in-the-dark powder (such as Glitterbug) and black light
  • Kitchen timer
  • Laminated images or slides of appropriate visual aids, as needed
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Moldy and clean bread examples (or photos of such)
  • Movies of sneezing and P. ramorum
  • Multitude of small candy "germs"
  • Paper clips
  • Pencils and scratch paper
  • Ping-Pong balls (enough for about 1 per 1-2 people)
  • Hand-washing station OR baby wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Salt
  • Sealable plastic storage bags (at least 4) in various sizes
  • Straws (enough for 1 per person)
One class period, or exhibit with stations
UCCE Marin,