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Lesson 1: How Does Influenza Spread Through a School?

Have you ever been sick? Have you ever had the flu? The flu is short for a virus called influenza. Many thousands of people die each year from the flu. The flu most often strikes during the winter months when people are inside more. Can you find out how the flu spreads? Grab a tissue and get ready for this activity.

Here are some definitions to help you in your investigation.

Genes - the material inside cells that results in various traits

Virus - a small collection of material that make up genes that can infect and damage cells

Influenza - a virus that attacks the lungs, throat, and nose

Epidemic - a disease that is widespread

Pandemic - a disease that has spread worldwide

Linear growth - growing by the same amount each time

Exponential growth - growing by doubling each time

Doing the Science

  1. Start the Flu Transmission Simulation by clicking on the “Simulation” tab.
  2. Click on the “None” button under the Factor menu on the left-bottom of the screen.
  3. Click on the “Run” button at the bottom center of the screen.
  4. Note the Progress bar, which shows time running for a six-week period.
  5. Click on the “1” icon on the Progress bar.
  6. Count and record in Table 3 the number of infected students at the end of the first week of the flu outbreak.
  7. Click on the “2” icon on the Progress bar.
  8. Count and record in Table 3 the number of infected students at the end of the second week of the flu outbreak.
  9. Repeat this process until you have counted and recorded data for all six weeks.

Do You Understand?

  1. As time progressed, how did the number of students who were infected by the flu change?

  2. Provide a possible reason for your answer to the previous question.

  3. Is the spread of flu more like linear growth or exponential growth? Please support your response with evidence.

  4. Coronavirus is another virus that spreads in a similar way as the flu. Why do experts say people should social distance to avoid the coronavirus?