Simpocalypse for High School: Biology/Engineering
In this project, you'll learn how, in broad strokes, modelling tools
like Simpocalypse can be used to help make decisions about public policy
problems, like the COVID-19 pandemic. You probably won't come up with
the next genius disease containment idea or anything, but you will learn
how the people who do that kind of thing need to put together such
diverse fields as biology, sociology, engineering, mathematics, and
computer science to try and make effective public health policy.
This project is designed to address Michigan Science Standards
HS-ETS1-1, HS-ETS1-2, HS-ETS1-3, and HS-ETS1-4, as well as ISTE Students
standards 1c, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 4a, 4b,4c, 4d, 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d, 6a, 6c, 6d,
7b, and 7c. For more information, you can read our
standards summary document,
standards document, and the ISTE's
You can see the rubric that your teacher will use to grade
your project here.
Over the next five weeks, we should be pretty busy. You'll be
learning about the biology of infectious diseases in general and
SARS-CoV-2 in particular, figuring out how to use Simpocalypse, and most
importantly creating your Simpocalypse models so you can make proposals
based on them.
- The Simpocalypse
website, where you can download Simpocalypse itself, and get
help with using it.
- The CODAP website
provides access to the excellent CODAP data science application.
While you're not doing lots of fancy statistical analysis like
you would in the statistics project, you might still find CODAP
useful to look at your data in something more flexible than
Simpocalypse's built-in graphs.
- You might even want to use Simpocalypse's database export
feature to analyze your data. If you don't know any computer
coding, or you don't know how to code with SQL in particular,
SQLiteBrowser is the
easiest way to open Simpocalypse database files.
- If you're a teacher, you can get more information about
the project from our summary presentation
and sign your class up with our signup form.
Step By Step
- The STEM Explorer team will give you an introductory lecture
to start the project off. If we can, we'll come to your school
and talk to you in person, but otherwise we'll try to give you
a live lecture over videoconference, or ask you to watch our
- Once we're done with the preliminaries, we'll need to review
some basics about the biology and history of infectious diseases.
The STEM Explorer team is creating some lesson plans to help you
with this, but you'll also probably spend some time with your
teacher's ordinary biology lessons.
- You'll also need to do your research about the COVID-19
pandemic. This information is changing quickly, but you'll want
to learn the best current information on how SARS-CoV-2 (which
causes COVID-19) is spread, how likely it is to spread from one
person to another, who is most susceptible, exactly how deadly
it is, and the current proposals for fighting it.
- Next, you'll learn how to use the Simpocalypse application.
website contains, besides the download links for
Simpocalypse itself, the Simpocalypse manual, some suggested
activities, and some tutorials to help you get started.
Depending on your situation, the STEM Explorer team might come
to your school to help, or give lectures over videoconference.
- Once you know how Simpocalypse works, you'll break out into
teams to create models of COVID-19 in Simpocalypse. You should
try to get your results to match the current understanding of
the real-life disease as closely as possible.
- Now you'll formulate a plan for controlling COVID-19 using
the Societal Controls available in Simpocalypse. You'll need to
test your plan in your Simpocalypse model to get an idea of how
well it might work.
- Once you're finished, you'll present your plan to the rest
of the class. You should explain how your proposal is similar to
or different from current real-life ideas for controlling
- Finally, your whole class will decide which plan you like
best, and present it to the STEM Explorer team, who will include
it on the Simpocalypse website.