Grade Range
6th-12th
Group Size
1-2 students
Active Time
65 minutes
Total Time
65 minutes
Area of Science
Human Biology & Health
Pandemics – COVID-19
Key Concepts
R naught, basic reproduction number, epidemics, viruses, disease modeling, COVID-19
Learning Objectives
  • Describe what R naught (R₀) is.
  • Identify the minimum value for R₀ needed to start an epidemic.
  • Investigate how local differences in R₀ can contribute to communities experiencing differences in scope and timeline of an epidemic.
Credits
Sandra Slutz, PhD, Science Buddies
simpandemic lesson plan

Overview

What is R naught (R₀), what factors influence it, and how does it shape the infection curves of an epidemic? Students will explore these questions and more in this lesson plan. They will then use SimPandemic, a free online tool, to model what a COVID-19 outbreak looks like in communities with different R₀ values.

Remote learning adaptation: This lesson plan can be conducted remotely. Students can work independently on the Explore section of the lesson plan using the Student Worksheet as a guide. The Engage and Reflect sections can either be dropped entirely, done in writing remotely, or be conducted over a video chat.

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
  • MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
  • HS-LS2-8. Evaluate evidence for the role of group behavior on individual and species' chances to survive and reproduce.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
MS
Developing and Using Models. Develop and/or use a model to generate data to test ideas about phenomena in natural or designed systems, including those representing inputs and outputs, and those at unobservable scales.

HS
Developing and Using Models. Develop, revise, and/or use a model based on evidence to illustrate and/or predict the relationships between systems or between components of a system.

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking. Use mathematical models and/or computer simulations to predict the effects of a design solution on systems and/or the interactions between systems
MS
LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystem. Organisms, and populations of organisms, are dependent on their environmental interactions both with other living things and with nonliving factors.

HS
LS2.D: Social Interactions and Group Behavior. Group behavior has evolved because membership can increase the chances of survival for individuals and their genetic relatives.
MS
Cause and Effect. Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Systems and System Models. Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions—such as inputs, processes, and outputs—and energy and matter flows within systems.

HS
Cause and Effect. Cause and effect relationships can be suggested and predicted for complex natural and human designed systems by examining what is known about smaller scale mechanisms within the system.

Systems and System Models. When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models.

Materials

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Grade Range
6th-12th
Group Size
1-2 students
Active Time
65 minutes
Total Time
65 minutes
Area of Science
Human Biology & Health
Pandemics – COVID-19
Key Concepts
R naught, basic reproduction number, epidemics, viruses, disease modeling, COVID-19
Credits
Sandra Slutz, PhD, Science Buddies
Learning Objectives
  • Describe what R naught (R₀) is.
  • Identify the minimum value for R₀ needed to start an epidemic.
  • Investigate how local differences in R₀ can contribute to communities experiencing differences in scope and timeline of an epidemic.
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