For obvious reasons, a lot of people are suddenly very interested in epidemeology. Since the SARS-CoV-2 virus started spreading through the human population, it seems like everybody's talking about curves and positivity rates and R0 and trendlines, not to mention incubation periods and viral loads and replication rates and mutations. All of this sounds to us like a great excuse to study statistic and biology!
Simpocalypse is an agent-model application developed by the Delta College STEM Explorer program as a tool for learning about the spread of contagious diseases, and how we can use concepts and ideas from statistics and biology to understand how contagious diseases work and spread, and how people can fight them.
We've developed two standards-based learning projects for high school students, and one for middle school students that use Simpocalypse to meet requirements in different disciplines. They have similar outlines, but have different emphases to meet different sets of standards.
Your job in the middle school science project is to invent your own disease. You'll need to use your imagination, along with research into the history of infectious disease, to create a story of how your disease affects society, and use Simpocalypse to devise and test strategies for controlling it. This project is designed to meet Michigan's MS-ETS1 group of standards, Michigan's CTE computer modelling standards, and some of the Core Standards in English Language Arts. The detailed outline of this project is on the Middle School Science project page.
In the statistics-based project, designed to meet most Core Standards for high school statistics, you'll research historical outbreaks of infectious diseases and use Simpocalypse to recreate one of them. Most importantly, once you have your disease model built in Simpocalypse, you'll use it to generate lots of data which you can use to learn about statistical methods like measures of central tendency, one- and two-dimensional plots, curve-fitting and regression, and frequency tables. You can find all the details on the High School Statistics project page.
The biology-based project has a more specific emphasis. You'll use the latest biological and epidemeological information known about the COVID-19 epidemic to develop a model of it in Simpocalypse. You'll propose measures to mitigate and control COVID-19, as you've come to understand it through your research, and use your model to test them. Simpocalypse is not a tool designed for public health researchers to base serious policy recommendations on, but it is designed so you can learn how computer models are used, what their strengths and limitations are, and how real policy can be improved with their help. This project is designed to meet Michigan's HS-ETS1 group of science standards for engineering design, and also involves lots of biology fundamentals related to infectious diseases. The detailed information you need to do this project is on the High School Biology project page.