Pupils help design app to teach youngsters about viruses like Covid

The app is aimed at schoolchildren and is designed to teach them about respiratory viruses.

Anderston Primary School pupils unveil app at science festival to teach children about viruses like Covid Izusek via iStock
Design: Students at Anderston Primary School in Glasgow helped create the app.

School pupils in Glasgow have been drafted in to help design an app to teach youngsters about respiratory viruses like Covid-19.

The Co-Immunicate app is aimed at schoolchildren aged five to 11 and is designed to teach them about respiratory viruses and how people’s immune systems help protect them against infection.

The app, now on the Apple App Store, uses augmented reality, quizzes and a game in an interactive learning experience, and is set to be presented to Glasgow Science Festival on Wednesday.

The software was developed by staff from the University of Glasgow, Glasgow School of Art and children at Anderston Primary School.

Headteacher Elizabeth Hendry said the project is “particularly relevant under the current circumstances” and “has definitely inspired many of our young people”.

Students in the 2020/21 Primary 6/7 class provided drawings which were used to illustrate what happens after a respiratory virus infection and to help explain what viruses are.

Pupils provided voiceovers for the app and helped the developers test the software, giving feedback to help make it better.

The app uses research from Glasgow University’s Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, where scientists work to understand how respiratory infections change the cells that make up the respiratory tract, and the immune cells that move into the lung to protect it from a future attack.

Dr Megan Macleod, senior lecturer at the institute, said: “We wanted to create a fun and informative tool to help the pupils and the broader community understand what happens after a respiratory virus infection.”

As well as schoolchildren and scientists, Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation was brought into help design the app.

Dr Matthieu Poyade, a research fellow in the department who helped make the app with Orla McCorry, said: “It was really exiting being able to engage pupils in the design of the app.

“With this approach we expect to be able to make immunology more accessible to kids, using augmented reality on widely available mobile devices.”