We are inviting elementary and secondary school science teachers and their students (Grades 6-8) to use a two-week unit on epidemics (i.e., the science of how viruses like COVID-19 spread and how to prevent it) during this Spring 2021 term.

If you've participated in the Fall 2020 epidemic outbreak, you and your students are welcome to return! The Spring 2021 virus will be a new strain, so your students can be re-infected, and there will be a fundraising drive for vaccine development.

We are providing free adaptable class activities to be used in classrooms virtually and/or physically. We also provide free access to Whyville.net, an ad-free, online virtual world in which students can experience and investigate a virtual epidemic. The learning goals for this unit have been mapped to NGSS for middle school students. For an overview of the curriculum, please click here (For the full curriculum, please see link in list below).

This short video explains a bit about what we're doing with virtual epidemics — using a virtual experience to motivate exploration of the science behind epidemics as well as how to prevent infection. We hope this will give students agency in virtual life (where they can explore without fear) and in real life (because they can share what they've learned and take action).

Set your students up in Whyville now so they can get acquainted with the virtual town, earn "clams" (Whyville's virtual currency), and contribute to the vaccine development fundraiser starting January 25!

The University of Pennsylvania received funding from the National Science Foundation (#2031748) to develop and test this unit and online activities. Our interdisciplinary team includes science educators and teachers, learning scientists and designers, and epidemiologists who have been working with virtual epidemics for over two decades.

We hope you and your students will join us! Below are resources that you may find useful:

If you are interested in more information or to participate, please enter your email address below:

Thank you for your interest! We will be in touch very soon.


Project Primary Investigator: Yasmin Kafai, University of Pennsylvania, kafai@upenn.edu