Simpocalypse for High School: Statistics
In this project, you'll learn how to use statistical techniques, like
measures of central tendency, plots, and regression, to help you
interpret the data you get out of a Simpocalypse model. These tools help
you reason about large datasets as a whole, and they can also help make predictions about future data based on past data.
This project is designed to meet most of the Core Math Standards for
high school statistics. (The full list is too long to include here.) It
also addresses Michigan Science Standard HS-ETS1-4 and ISTE Students
standards 1c, 3a, 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,
Core Standards website, Michigan's
document, and the ISTE's
You can see the rubric that your teacher will use to grade
your project here.
You'll have a lot to do over the next six weeks or so. We'll be
learning about the biology of infectious diseases, practicing with
Simpocalypse itself, actually creating a disease model and generating
data from it, and then using the data to apply all the cool statistical
techniques we're really here to learn.
- 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,
which you'll find very helpful for some kinds of statistical
analysis, especially 2D scatter charts, box plots, and linear
- You might 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
Step By Step
- First, we'll need to review some basics about the biology of
infectious diseases, so you have the basic background
information you need to understand the biological aspects of the
project. The STEM Explorer team is creating some lesson plans
to help you with this.
- 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.
- After this it'll be time to go out and research historical
epidemics and pandemics, paying particular attention to finding
statistical data about them so you can recreate the epidemic
later, in Simpocalypse. The Simpocalypse website has some
to get you started, but you'll need to do some digging on your
own, too. At the end of this process your team should pick a
historical disease to work with for the rest of the project
- Once you know which disease you'll focus on, it's time to
learn some statistics! This part will be mostly up to your
teacher, but the important thing is that you learn about the
tools, like plots and linear regression, that you'll be using
later to analyze your Simpocalypse data.
- Now, you know what you need to start playing with
Simpocalypse! You'll need to recreate your historical disease as
accurately as possible, within the limitations of the historical
records that you have access to. Once your Simpocalypse model is
working pretty well, you can start collecting data from it.
- Next, you'll take your exported data and try to find
interesting things in it. This part of the project is perhaps
the most important, but it's also pretty open-ended. You have
the statistical tools you'll need to do things like measure the
effects that changes to the parameters have on the results,
visualize the way different parameters are related to each
other, and approximate certain results with relatively simple
mathematical functions (which you might use, for example, to
predict how future data in the simulation will look based on
the first part). During this process you'll probably end up
tweaking your model, so you can measure how the results change.
- When you're all done, you'll write a report about your
findings, describing your simulation's results using statistical
language. Depending on your teacher's preferences, you might
just submit a written report, or you may give a presentation
about your investigation.