This video lesson shows students that math can play a role in understanding how an infectious disease spreads and how it can be controlled. During this lesson, students will see and use both deterministic and probabilistic models and will learn by doing through role-playing exercises. The primary exercises between video segments of this lesson are class-intensive simulation games in which members of the class 'infect' each other under alternative math modeling assumptions about disease progression. Also there is an occasional class discussion and local discussion with nearby classmates.
This learning video addresses a particular problem of selection bias, a statistical bias in which there is an error in choosing the individuals or groups to make broader inferences. Rather than delve into this broad topic via formal statistics, we investigate how it may appear in our everyday lives, sometimes distorting our perceptions of people, places and events, unless we are careful. When people are picked at random from two groups of different sizes, most of those selected usually come from the bigger group. That means we will hear more about the experience of the bigger group than that of the smaller one. This isn't always a bad thing, but it isn't always a good thing either. Because big groups ''speak louder,'' we have to be careful when we write mathematical formulas about what happened in the two groups. We think about this issue in this video, with examples that involve theaters, buses, and lemons. The prerequisite for this video lesson is a familiarity with algebra. It will take about one hour to complete, and the only materials needed are a blackboard and chalk.