By Richard Corban Harwood

Mathematics, George Fox University, Newberg OR USA

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This modeling scenario guides students to simulate and investigate the spread of the common cold in a residence hall. An example floor plan is given, but the reader is encouraged to use a more relevant example. The two-week project presented here uses a hands-on activity followed by solution of a first order differential equation by the separable method (method of separation of variables) [4] and further graphical analysis using a spreadsheet. In groups, students run repeated simulations, collect data, derive a differential equation model, solve that equation, estimate parameter values by hand and through regression, visually evaluate the consistency of the model with their data, and present their results to the class. The simulation portion can be done in a 50 minute class period and has been successfully implemented on the first day of class. Required supplies include small beans or candy pieces to shake onto the printed floor plan.

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Richard Corban Harwood (2016), "1-037-S-CommonColdSpread," https://www.simiode.org/resources/3171.

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