Pupils tackle problems related to a viral outbreak: locating infected people, creating an antidote and optimising the budget for their vaccination programme.


Set in a fantasy context, the Case Study tackles some of the problems that health officials face when confronted with the outbreak of a deadly viral infection. Pupils play the role of a scientist trying to develop a strategy to contain the spread of the disease, working with different experts. The strategy comprises three activities: first, pupils have to locate the positions of people infected with the deadly virus; second, pupils have to help create an antidote given a number of clues; third, pupils plan a vaccination programme to minimize the spread of the disease by deciding which groups should receive the vaccine when the supplies are limited.

Completing an activity in any one of the 'bunker areas', unlocks a code which can then be used in the Map Room to reflect the progress that individuals or groups have made. This provides the opportunity either for the whole class to work through different activities at the same time or for independent progression. It also promotes group work, discussions and real world interaction.


The Assesment Guide for Outbreak is comprehensive guide to help teachers to assess pupils' achievement and progression as they work on the activities. It includes sample work, progression charts and an optional, supplementary assessment task.

Assessment Guide (PDF) Editable version (DOCX)

Mathematical content

Use coordinate clues to locate infected people. Mix ingredients in proportions to create an antidote. Use resources optimally to design a vaccination programme.

Specific Key Stage 3 National Curriculum areas covered include:

  • Key processes - consider the likely accuracy of results, communicate effectively and discuss results.
  • Number and algebra - use rational numbers, their properties and their different representations; rules of arithmetic applied to calculations and manipulation with rational numbers; applications of ratio and proportion; accuracy and rounding.
  • Geometry and measure - points, lines and shapes in 2D coordinate system; Pythagoras' theorem; similarity, including the use of scale.
  • Curriculum opportunities - work on problems that arise in other subjects; work collaboratively as well as independently in a range of contexts.

Organisation and pedagogy

Each of the three activities is a one hour lesson and can be arranged on three different levels. The teacher chooses the level appropriate for the class - or the level appropriate for individual pupils. The three activities are distinct from one another and address different areas of mathematics. They all have printable homework sheets; the third activity asks the pupils to write a report for homework.

Resources provided

This Case Study is in the form of a self-contained software application for use by pupils and teachers. The "Teachers" area of the software contains:

  • Teacher notes.
  • Supporting worksheets to print out.
  • Detailed lesson plans for each of the three activities.

Also included are illustrated templates for the spreadsheet-based activities.

Resource requirements

(including hardware & software)

  • The software should run in any recent web browser with Adobe Flash Player installed. The recommended way to run it is direct from this website, but the complete package can be downloaded as a .zip file for offline use.
  • All the lessons require a computer for each pair or small group of students (although some could be adapted).
  • Microsoft Excel 2000 (or later) or an alternative (such as OpenOffice) is required for the spreadsheet-based activities. OpenOffice is available from http://www.openoffice.org.