Skip to Content
Lab-Aids Store

Tracking the Spread of Infectious Diseases

Kit #906
Tracking the Spread of Infectious Diseases

Contagious diseases can spread quickly through a population. If an infected individual mingles with healthy individuals, random contact can cause many more to become infected. This activity simulates the transmission of a contagious disease and the steps epidemiologists take to try to determine its source and limit its spread. Two scenarios are provided, one for an infection spreading among humans and another among livestock. If desired, the kit materials can also be used to simulate different "trackable" spreading event scenarios such as an invasive species or an outbreak of food poisoning. This activity also introduces the concept of exponential growth.

Details at a Glance

  • 1-2 Days | 1-2 ~50 minute class periods
  • 2 Activities
  • Accommodates 5 classes, each with 1 group of 32 students
  • Consumables service 160 students
  • Meets our criteria for supporting literacy
  • Includes digital resources
  • Requires a water source

Scientific Concepts

•Disease is a breakdown in structures or functions of an organism. Some diseases are the result of intrinsic failures of the system. Others are the result of damage by infection by other organisms.
•Design and conduct a scientific investigation.
•Develop descriptions, explanations, predictions, and models using evidence.
•Think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanations.
•Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and predictions.
•Scientific explanations emphasize evidence, have logically consistent arguments, and use scientific principles, models, and theories.
•Safe living involves the development and use of safety precautions and the recognition of risk in personal decisions.
•Individuals can use a systematic approach to thinking critically about risks and benefits.
•Important personal and social decisions are made based on perceptions of benefits and risks.
Key Vocabulary: carrier, exponential growth, contagious disease, infection,

Guides & Student Sheets

Our kits and modules provide you with everything you need so you can open, review, and teach the material confidently the next day.

  • Full downloadable Teacher Guide with background information, detailed instruction, example data and answers
  • Downloadable Student Sheets with age appropriate background information, full procedure(s), and analysis questions
  • All materials necessary to carry out the investigation
  • Safety Data Sheets

Kit Components

  • 32 100-mL plastic cups
  • 1 15-mL drop control bottle of “disease” (2% Na2 CO3 solution)
  • 1 30-mL drop control bottle of “Infection Test Solution”
  • 28 Student Worksheet and Guides
  • 1 Teacher’s Guide
  • 1 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) packet
  • Not included and needed for instruction: Distilled water (1 L for a class of 32 students), disposal container (at least 1 L capacity for a class of 32 students), safety eyewear for each student, additional personal safety equipment such as gloves or aprons (optional), computer with internet connection and display capabilities for the class (optional).