Big Research Question: How can a field work survey help explain why there has been an increase in macaque carried malaria in Borneo?

Macaques 298

How is malaria normally transmitted to humans? What is unusual about this type of malaria (called Plasmodium knowlesi) being passed to humans? What other data would you need to look at? 

This type of malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes who have bitten infected macaques. Students must consider how drone photos, GPS tracking and interviewing local people could help answer the question.

This activity illustrates how scientists use fieldwork to collect evidence. This supports coverage of Working Scientifically (England).

Curriculum key words: communicable disease, malaria, mosquito, protist, correlation
Resource type: Lesson activity including presentation slides, student sheets, teacher notes and useful weblinks.
Ages: 14-18



How to use this resource

at the start of a topic to …
  • engage students in a real life context relating to current research
  • to find out what students already know 
  • consolidate existing understanding

at the end of a topic to…
  • assess student understanding by challenging students to apply their learning to a new context
  • to provide a contemporary example of how scientists are pushing the boundaries in understanding a subject area further
  • add depth and challenge

within a topic to …
  • enhance students’ confidence in the analysis of data by providing the opportunity to work with data types beyond those obtained in the school laboratory
  • assess student understanding of specific aspects of working with data (working scientifically by applying their understanding in a new context)

  • as an independent learning activity 

  • to promote careers in STEM and show the varied work of scientists


This activity is based on research that is being carried out as part of the “Monkeybar” project, which is funded by the Research Councils UK through the Environmental and Social Ecology of Human Infectious Diseases initiative (Grant Ref. G1100796).

We would like to acknowledge the support and advice of Professor Chris Drakeley (Principal Investigator/Head of Project), Beth Downe (Project Administrator) and Dr. Kimberly Fornace (Project Scientist/Researcher) from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

We also thank Kimberly for permission to use her photographs of the project.