Epidemics: Modelling with mathematics
Posted on 15th February 2013 by HollyMillward
Measles is back in the UK. In many countries, it has never gone away.
With a cheap, effective vaccine available since the 1960s, we might have hoped that it would be totally eliminated by now. But between January and mid-April 2011, there were more than 6,500 cases of measles in 33 countries (figures from the World Health Organisation).
Mathematicians use mathematical models to make predictions about epidemics. Government health departments and hospitals use these to ensure they have the resources they need to deal with epidemics – so this is vitally important maths.
But how does it work? How do mathematicians develop these models? In the video clips in this pack, Dr Julia Gog and Dr Andrew Conlan, of the University of Cambridge, explain using a variety of simple models. The accompanying activities will help students to understand what a mathematical model is, and how we can build up increasingly complex models from the simplest of starting points. They will also be better equipped to understand why vaccination is important in preventing the spread of epidemics.
The resources in this pack complement the video clips, providing activities designed to help students (aged between 12-14) understand how the maths they are taught in school can help them to become better informed about such issues. Answers and additional notes are also provided.