Shodor Scholars Program

About the AgentSheets Model

In this model, students focused on the visual element of a disease rather than the actual accuracy of the data received. To do this, students made the background in the shape of a body and then placed the white blood cells, HIV, and Hepatitis B into the body. Because of the scale, the students weren't able to place proportionately the types of cells and viruses in the body. However, they were able to show the relationship between the white blood cells and the viruses in the body.

They began by placing a depiction for the different elements in the body. The white blood cells were depicted by white circles, the HIV virus by green diamonds, the Hepatitis B virus by the blue square, the liver by the purple squares, and the facial features by the black circle.

The 'Reset' button on the bottom of the screen will give you a healthy person with white blood cells, a liver, and facial features. The user can then place different diseases (either HIV or Hepatitis) into the body to view the effects of the disease on the body.

If you run the model with no diseases, the white blood cells will randomly move around. If you add HIV, both HIV and the white blood cells will move around randomly. Each HIV virus is given a percentage of the time that it will convert a white blood cell into a virus when it comes in contact with it. This is modeling the way in which HIV reproduces in the blood. When the body has no more white blood cells, it is incapable of fighting off other diseases, and the person will die. This is modeled by the transformation of the facial features changing from black dots to black circles.

If you reset and add the Hepatitis virus, both the white blood cells and the virus will move around randomly. When you first put the Hepatitis virus into the model, it will be an inactive virus. This means that it can have no effect on the immune system. However, when it becomes active after a certain amount of time, the virus will move randomly towards the liver. When it comes into contact with the liver, the liver will begin to disappear. You will also see the virus reproduce. When the liver is completely gone, the body will die.

If you reset and add both Hepatitis and HIV, each virus will perform their functions. However, the person will die when either the liver disappears or when all of the white blood cells have converted themselves to the HIV virus.