Modelling disease outbreaks

When contagious diseases break out, they can spread quickly between people forming an epidemic. We'd like to stop this happening, but one of the problems is that we can't run lots of tests on real people to see what might stop diseases spreading. We can't, for example, give a bunch of people a disease and see whether it spreads faster if they travel to school by train or by bus.

However, computer simulations of disease outbreaks can help us do exactly that. We can make models of diseases in a computer and let them take over a simulated group of people. In the computer we can see how they would spread, but we can also play with the models like a game to see what slows the diseases down or stops them spreading.

This tutorial will let you experiment with these kinds of models, see how geography is important in these models, and even build one yourself.

You have three options:

1) Experiment with an easy-to-use model

2) Build your own model in Scratch from a rough outline

2) Build your own model in Scratch with a walkthrough