the West Nile Virus

ScienceDaily (Dec. 11, 2009) — At least a dozen Alberta high-school calculus classrooms were exposed to the West Nile virus recently.

Luckily, however, it wasn't literally the illness. University of Alberta education professor Stephen Norris and mathematics professor Gerda de Vries used the virus as a theoretical tool when they designed materials for use in an advanced high-school math course. The materials allow students to use mathematical concepts learned in their curriculum to determine the disease's reproductive number, which determines the likelihood of a disease spreading.

"This piece was designed to satisfy an optional unit in Math 31 (Calculus), for which there are no materials, so we said, 'let's fill the gap,'" said Norris. "These materials show a real application of mathematics in the biology curriculum for high-school students."

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