Epidemics, Exponential Functions, and Modeling

  • Epidemics, Exponential Functions, and Modeling

    Sarah B. Bush, Katie Gibbons, Karen S. Karp, and Fred Dillon
    The phenomenon of a plague intrigues students and provides a visual model that demonstrates growth.
    The phenomenon of outbreaks of dangerous diseases is both intriguing to students and of mathematical significance, which is exactly why we engaged eighth graders in an introductory activity on the growth that occurs as an epidemic spreads. Various contexts can set the stage for such an exploration. Reading adolescent literature like The Eleventh Plague (Hirsch 2011), viewing a movie such as Contagion (2011), and describing the history of London’s Great Plague during the 1600s are all possibilities.