Plague Inc. Immunology Lab

Overview: Students appreciate how different characteristics of diseases affect their transmission through playing the game Plague Inc.

Goals:

  • to teach students how disease characteristics and symptoms affect the spread of a disease through different populations
  • to motivate students’ interest in epidemiology through an entertaining game

Class: BIOS E-65D: Human Anatomy & Physiology II

Introduction/Background: The course teaches students about the structure and function of multiple bodily systems. This lab allows students to examine how interactions between agent factors, host factors, and the environment affect disease transmission through a game that simulates the spread of disease.  The game Plague Inc. is a mix of strategy and simulation where the player’s goal is to evolve a deadly, global plague that will wipe out humanity. They can control factors such as where the disease originates, how it is transmitted, and its symptoms.

Materials

iPad or Android device(s) with game Plague Inc. installed

Handout with instructions

Procedure

  • Before this activity, students learn about epidemiology in lecture (PowerPoint attached)
  • The instructor prepares iPads or Android devices for the students to use by installing Plague Inc. This app can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store or Google Play (typically for $0.99).
  • In lab section, students received a reading on epidemiology and instructions on how to play the game Plague Inc., as well as questions about the students’ choices in game and about how the game illustrates real-world concepts in epidemiology. (attached)
  • Students play the game, stopping to answer questions on the handout. This lab report was later evaluated by their teaching fellows.
  • The instructor should encourage students to discuss the game with each other while they are playing and after everyone has completed 2 games. Since everyone develops their disease slightly differently, they can look at the effect of many different variables on the success of failure of a disease.

Comments from the Instructor:

“The benefits of using this activity was that students had fun learning about a topic that cannot be easily simulated in real life.  In addition, they kept on learning after class because the game was a lot of fun!”

carr_immunology_ii_slides.pdf9.08 MB
carr_immunology_lab.pdf239 KB