How can mathematics help us understand and tackle infectious diseases? From measles and 'flu to SARS and COVID, mathematicians work collaboratively with many other disciplines to help us understand and predict the epidemics that can spread through our communities, and to help us look at strategies that we may be able to use to contain them.
Our new Contagious Maths resources give school students and the public the opportunity to join researchers on the mathematical frontline to learn more, along with interactive tools to try your own hand at modelling disease spread.
Explore our Contagious Maths resources
There are two routes to explore our Contagious Maths resources, tailored for different audiences.
NRICH classroom resources for schools
These curriculum-linked NRICH classroom resources for ages 11-14 are designed to be used as a sequence of lessons. They enable students to use the mathematics they already know to understand how maths can help us tackle infectious disease. Detailed teacher notes are provided, and the learning outcomes are mapped to the UK National Curriculum.
Plus Contagious Maths library
This multimedia content collection is aimed at interested general readers and older students. It includes articles and video clips giving an accessible introduction to the basics of disease modelling, and interactivities enabling you to explore and investigate the mathematical concepts involved.
Whichever route you follow, this project aims to give an introduction to mathematical modelling; explore how mathematicians can model the spread of disease through a population and the type of questions we might think about when looking at our models; and give an insight into what mathematics researchers working on these real-life problems actually do.
In the clip below, Professor Julia Gog from the University of Cambridge introduces the project. Julia's research focuses on the mathematics of infectious diseases, and her experience includes being one of the mathematical modellers working on COVID-19 during the pandemic.
About the Contagious Maths project
Our Contagious Maths resources have been developed by the Millennium Mathematics Project and Julia Gog, Professor of Mathematical Biology at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge.
This project was inspired and funded by the Royal Society's Rosalind Franklin Award, which was awarded to Julia Gog in 2020. You can watch Julia’s 2020 Rosalind Franklin Award lecture here. We thank the Royal Society for their encouragement and support in developing these resources.
The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2021 were a source of inspiration, where Julia was a co-presenter with Professor Jonathan van Tam for one of the lectures in 2021: A Perfect Storm. In particular, we thank Dan Plane and the team at the RI for the capsules and lovely custom-made NRICH tokens for the 'lucky dip' demonstration shown in these resources.
These resources were written, developed and edited by Julia Gog and the MMP team, including Marianne Freiberger, Charlie Gilderdale, Oscar Gillespie, Julia Hawkins, Ems Lord, Claire Metcalfe and Rachel Thomas. The clips were filmed by Howard France of Avito Ltd.
We thank the schools who have given us valuable feedback in the pilot phase of this project. We would love to hear any further feedback: please feel welcome to email us.