A former University of Texas at Austin STEM Education Master’s student currently teaches 5th grade math and science at an elementary school in Round Rock, Texas. The teacher instructs a 55-minute enrichment period which focuses on coding and science every Friday morning called e-slot (enrichment slot). The teacher asked Max Sherard, one of the graduate students on the GbCC team to guest teach the e-slot period on Friday, April 25th. Max decided to focus the enrichment slot on disease transmission, since this is a locally relevant issue for schools in Texas. Students explored infographics related to Zika Virus and Measles outbreaks in Texas and discussed their thoughts on what causes a disease to move more quickly through a group of people. Students generated ideas including: people not washing their hands, people not visiting doctors when they are sick, and people not getting shots (vaccinations).
Max introduced the first model, the participatory GbCC disease simulation which allows students to simulate real people in a digital space. Students were able to play multiple rounds and make predictions on how a disease would spread if symptoms were visible or not.
After a few rounds of the participatory disease simulation, Max introduced students to the Vaccination model (developed by Kalpana Vaidya), which allows users to control the vaccination rate of a population and simulate an epidemic. Students experienced some issues related to internet connectivity in the classroom but enjoyed playing with the simulation.
The e-slot ended by allowing students to discuss whether they believed vaccinations should be required to attend public schools. Most students were in favor of vaccinations because of the benefits to public health, specifically those students who are too ill to receive vaccinations.