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Section13.1Modeling the Spread of an Illness

This section will focus on modeling the spread of an illness. Two types of class activities will be used to demonstrate how mathematical principles can be applied to simulate how an illness can spread among a population, one is a physical activity or game, the other involves using spreadsheets. Although in class we will model the spread of a fictitious disease, there are organizations, such as the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and other medical centers and universities (including UNL) who work to understand epidemics that can be very dangerous. They work to answer questions about how quickly an illness will spread and what steps can be done to contain it.

The best way to answer questions in science is by experiments, but we obviously can't do real experiments to answer questions about disease outbreaks. Instead, we build mathematical models that predict the course of a disease outbreak and do experiments with the models to predict the effect of strategies used to control it. It is difficult to know for sure whether a model is giving good predictions, but we can compare the predictions with what actually happens to continually improve the models we use.

Complete the activities conducted in class and the worksheets found in the Math 203 course manual. Then complete the homework problems which follow as assigned by your instructor.