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Activity 4: Public Health or Pasteur:
Why did health begin to improve?

Teacher’s Notes



This lesson aims to provide students with an understanding of:

·       the main reasons why healthcare changed so quickly in the later nineteenth century

·       the main differences between health before and after industrialisation

·       the links between different causal factors.




This activity is designed to be used as an introduction to the changes in healthcare that happened in the period between 1850 and 1900. It reflects back on the latter stages of the Renaissance era to provide students with the context in which scientists and governments were working at the beginning of the Industrial age then contrasts this with the situation in 1900. The main reasons for the changes are drawn out through a weighing scales exercise that asks whether change was more the result of Public Health or Scientists, such as Pasteur. Students can be extended at this stage by asking them to make links between the events and can also be challenged to think about the role of factors in alternative ways.


Stage 1 – Use the animation ‘Health in 1700. What was it like?’ in Activity 4A to provide an overview of beliefs and practices relating to health were before the Industrial Revolution. Refer students back to the breakthroughs of the Renaissance period, asking what changes these discoveries had led to at this point in time. Check students’ understanding of the period by using the True or False activity on screen 2. 


Stage 2 – Use the animation, ’Health in 1900. What was it like?’ in Activity 4B to contrast the period before industrialisation with the medical situation at the end of the Industrial Revolution. Ask students to consider what the key changes were, and

Activity 4: Public Health or Pasteur:
Why did health begin to improve?

the factors that led to them. Check students’ understanding of the progress that had been made by using the True or False activity on screen 2. As a class, identify what the main changes were between the first and second period. What factors led to this change? Which of these factors do students think was most influential?


Stage 3 – Use the Public Health or Pasteur and Science scales in Activity 4C to draw conclusions about the reasons for improved health between 1850 and 1900. Students should be encouraged to think carefully about whether each development was the result of scientific breakthrough or intervention by Governments. Click on ‘Info’ to provide further details that might help students when making their decisions.

Once each item has been placed on the scales consider the findings. Can the students identify any links between the items on the scales? Are there any items that they consider to be equally the result of Government action and scientists?


Teachers Notes - Activity 4A - Activity 4B - Activity 4C





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