Launching CDC NERD Academy to Teach Students Public Health

Today’s students are faced with many public health challenges and are interested in learning more about public health issues. CDC NERD Academy, launched in Spring 2022 as a joint project from CDC and the CDC Foundation, is an innovative and standards-based curriculum that covers basic concepts in public health and epidemiology. Student activities are centered around a Novel Emerging Respiratory Disease (NERD) and are designed to spark students’ interest in public health careers.

This timely and relevant curriculum is built upon data collected during the COVID-19 pandemic and is presented in age-appropriate, relatable scenarios. Each module is designed to be easily implemented in classroom settings for grades 6-12 and features engaging instructional videos and a public health career spotlight.

  • A 2-minute teacher video demonstrates how to implement student activities.
  • A 10-minute student video with whiteboard animation activates student learning.
  • The career spotlight brings to life relatable and diverse characters, highlighting specific jobs in public health.

Modules cover a range of public health topics:

  1. What exactly is a pandemic?
  2. How does disease spread?
  3. Who is at risk?
  4. Where do public health data come from?
  5. How are public health data visualized?
  6. Why do laboratory testing?
  7. Why is contact tracing so important?
  8. How is an outbreak investigated?

Please use and share this educational curriculum to inspire students, open doors to a world of careers in public health, and help us build the public health workforce of the future. Learn more and get the CDC NERD Academy curriculum at

The CDC NERD Academy curriculum was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC’s Science Ambassador Fellowship (SAF) program with input from STEM teachers and public health experts. Support for the curriculum is made possible through a partnership between the CDC Foundation and CDC, using support funding provided to the CDC Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. CDC’s SAF is located in CDC’s the agency’s Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services, Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development, Epidemiology Workforce Branch (CSELS/DSEPD/EWB). Videos for the curriculum were developed and produced by Osmosis.

Alaina Whitton
Alaina Whitton is a program officer for the CDC Foundation.