Simpocalypse for Middle School: Science
In this project, you'll be researching infectious diseases, and using
what you learn along with your imagination and creativity to invent your
own imaginary disease in Simpocalypse. You'll use your disease model to
propose and test mitigation strategies, present your work to the rest of
your class, and then finally pick one group's disease and societal
response to refine and improve. You'll need to put together concepts
from a lot of different subjects: biology, engineering, computer
science, creative and technical writing, and more. Let's get started.
This project is designed to meet Michigan's MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2,
MS-ETS1-3, and MS-ETS1-4 science standards, Michigan's CTE ST 2.2
standard, and several of the ELA Core Standards in science and technical
subjects. It also meets many of the ISTE's Student standards. 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.
You'll have a lot to do in the next four weeks. Not only do you need
to learn how to use Simpocalypse, but you'll also have to do your
research, use your creativity to write a good story of your disease, and
create a Simpocalypse model you can use to support your proposals for
- 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 necessarily going doing lots of fancy statistical
analysis, like the high school statistics students would, 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 that, you'll learn how to use the
Simpocalypse application. The
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.
- Next, you'll go out and learn about infectious disease
outbreaks from the past. The Simpocalypse website has some
to get you started, but you'll need to do some digging on your
- Once you think you understand enough background information,
your group will create the story of a completely made-up
disease. You'll describe the disease, explain how it's spread,
and imagine its effects on society. How you'll do this is up to
you; we suggest doing things like writing mock newspaper
stories, or recording mock TV newscasts.
- Now your team has to do the hard work of creating your new
made-up disease in Simpocalypse. You'll have to play around for
a while, using trial and error to get the disease to behave how
- Next you'll think of ways to control your new disease, by
manipulating the Societal Measures settings in Simpocalypse to
create your fictional people's response to your disease.
- When you think you have a good plan for the Simpocalypse
people to control your disease, you'll present it to the rest
of your class. (Obviously, you might need to do this over
videoconferencing, or through some other virtual method.
- Your whole class will now pretend to be a public health
authority. You'll pick one disease from all of the presentations
and work together to improve the response plan. Once you've come
to a conclusion you can all generally agree on, you'll finish
your project by presenting your new and improved plan to the
STEM Explorer team. (This will probably have to happen over
videoconferencing too, or through a recorded video.)