Disease Model Press Release

Interactive Lesson on the Web Helps Teachers Explore Spread of Disease with Students

DURHAM, N.C. — May 27, 2009 — This week, Shodor, a Durham, NC non profit serving students and educators nationwide - is releasing yet another Web-based interactive educational tool that will help educators explore lessons in mathematics and the sciences with their students’ input and participation.

This new interactive online education tool is called "Disease Epidemic Model," and it is designed to help teachers and students better understand the spread and treatment of disease.


Dr. Robert M. Panoff, founder and executive director of Shodor, explained: "This model can help restore "sense and sensibility" into contemporary science lessons as teachers help their students understand what is happening in the world."

Panoff pointed to the current hysteria over the swine flu as one of the motivations for releasing the Epidemic Model now.

"With summer arriving, summer science programs will be able to use this model right away, and schools are already planning new and improved approaches for the fall. Using interactive tools like this can get the message across to students far more quickly and effectively," Panoff added.

This new model is a featured resource of Shodor's Computational Science Education Reference Desk, a Pathway portal of the National Science Digital Library. Educators, parents, and students can use their computers -and SMART Boards in schools- as tools for teaching and learning, allowing them to design a virtual "model" population and manipulate things like:

  • Days to Recover
  • Density of Population
  • Hygiene Levels
  • Infectiousness Rate
  • Limiting Travel
  • Medication
  • Mortality/Death Rate
  • Vaccination Option/Impact

By changing the numbers for each category, students can set their own parameters then "start" the spread of disease in this virtual world with the click of their mouse. Then, they slowly view the impact of all the factors they selected unfolding slowly before their eyes. Certain people become sick, others get well and some die. They can see how factors such as improved hygiene, limiting travel, increasing availability of doctors, and providing vaccination might reduce the spread of disease.

This meaningful exploration not only addresses science issues and prompts discussions relating to each factor selected within the model, but also serves to demonstrate probability and cause/effect. Scientists often use computer models to study complicated phenomena like epidemics.

To help teachers, the associated lesson ideas are aligned with national and state science and mathematics teaching standards. This will help make it easier for them to incorporate the Disease Epidemic Model into their classes for middle or high school math or science.

More about Shodor

Shodor is a nationally recognized resource for educators and students. It helps educators through its work in creating and sharing online curriculum on its Web site, and providing customized training sessions for mathematics and science educators to effectively use these and other Web-based resources in their classrooms.

In addition to providing online resources and customized training for groups of educators ranging from elementary through undergraduate levels, Shodor provides innovative workshops for Triangle youth with interests in mathematics, science and computers. Summer workshops introduce students to a variety of topics, such as forensics, engineering and graphic/Web design using interactive computing. To register and for more information, visit http://www.shodor.org/calendar.

Also, high school students who are participants in the apprenticeship program and interns from area colleges and universities help Shodor to build and maintain online curriculum - such as the Disease Epidemic Model model being released this week - and work on various programming projects to constantly improve the effectiveness of the organization's Web site, which receives more that 3-million page views per month.

"We are not aware of another organization that involves youth in the creation and maintenance of curriculum that is used so extensively at the national level," says Patricia Jacobs, Associate Director of Shodor. "Not only are they helping us create something incredibly useful for teachers, they are learning 21st Century Workforce Skills at the same time," she added.

Shodor is actively seeking support for its local programs for youth. To make a donation that will help students - and make a difference for teachers at the same time - information can be found at http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/give - and donations of $25 or more will receive a CD of Shodor's most popular online Curriculum - Interactivate - a great gift for any mathematics teacher from grades 3 and up.

Shodor, a non profit organization nationally recognized for its work to advance mathematics and science education, offers interactive online tools that are used by educators and students across the U.S. - even internationally.

Shodor, located in Durham, NC, offers:

  • workshops and internships for students interested in science, math and computers
  • award-winning interactive online curriculum bringing mathematics and science lessons to life
  • customized workshops for educators teaching mathematics and science at all levels

For more information about Shodor, visit, http://www.shodor.org/about.

Press Contact

Mary Paisley, Communications Coordinator, (919) 452-5334, mpaisley@shodor.org