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Fake news, gossip, ODEs, humanistic mathematics, problem-based learning, active learning


Mathematics | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Science and Mathematics Education | Social Psychology and Interaction


How does a lie spread through a community? The purpose of this paper is two-fold: to provide an educational tool for teaching Ordinary Differential Equations (ODEs) and sensitivity analysis through a culturally relevant topic (fake news), and to examine the social justice implications of misinformation. Under the assumption that people are susceptible to, can be infected with, and recover from a lie, we model the spread of false information with the classic Susceptible-Infected-Recovered (SIR) model. We develop a system of ODEs with lie-dependent parameter values to examine the pervasiveness of a lie through a community.

The model presents the opportunity for the education of ODEs in a classroom setting through a creative application. The model brings a socially and culturally relevant topic into the classroom, allowing students who may not relate with purely technical examples to connect with the material. Including diverse perspectives in the discussion and development of mathematics and engineering will enable creative and differing approaches to the worlds' problems.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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