The COMAP math modeling competition is an important international competition in which students have a weekend to try to solve a tricky real-life problem. For this year's problem, the students were asked about Ebola. Specifically, they were told to suppose that a cure had been developed for Ebola, and they had to determine a way to get the cure where it needed to go in order to most efficiently stop the disease. They had to consider a ton of different variables, like how the disease spreads, where to and how to send the medicine where it needs to go, how fast the medicine could be produced, etc.
Students Joe Appleton and Carmen Morales were the first presenters and explained the use of a SIR Model. This acronym was used to describe the different stages of the virus as being susceptible, infectious, and recovery. Rooshan Matih, the second presenter, used a clever “candy demonstration” to explain this model further and to show how a disease spreads exponentially through a population, starting with 1 person, and growing to infect 2, then 4, then 8, 16 , etc. Both presenters agreed that knowledge and awareness was the best way to overcome Ebola.