Sharing Christopher Wolfram’s amazing agent based virus model with kids

I stumbled on Christopher Wolfram’s agent based virus model last week totally by accident. The model is here:

I’d played around with it a bit over the last two days and decided to share some of the ideas with my kids this morning.

We started with the basic idea of networks and graphs:

Now we stepped away from Wolfram’s mode for a second to look at several of the different kinds of graph structures he was studying. The boys had some pretty interesting things to say about the different types of graphs:

Next we looked at one of the results in Wolfram’s project that I thought was particularly fascinating – how a seemingly small change in assumptions can cause a virus to change from hardly spreading at all to spreading across the entire network:

Finally, my older son (in 10th grade) had looked through Wolfram’s presentation yesterday and I asked him to show some of the ideas that had caught his eye:

I love Wolfram’s post – both for showing how mathematical modeling can showing you interesting ideas about the spread of a virus and for showing the power of Mathematica to make these models accessible to everyone. This was a really fun project to share with the boys.