Exponentials and Ebola
In this lesson, students use a basic exponential model to explore the fundamental mathematical ideas of transmission and replication.
Mathematically, the spread of disease can be modeled in a manner similar to the spread of a rumor. Although a number of simplifying assumptions must be made, the simple exponential model captures the basic impact of transmission rates on the dispersion of a disease among a population. Students can explore the consequences of transmission rate using multiplication, algebra, graphing utilities and elementary statistics.
After exploring the essential behavior of various simple exponential models, students then compare real-world data to their theoretical models. Those that are capable can perform regressions on the data to approximate actual transmission rates. The students’ work and the real-world data establish a context for discussing the strengths and weaknesses of this simple model of disease transmission.
This lesson is part of a series of Ebloa lessons at the NYT Learning Network and is freely available here.