Outbreak! Identifying pathogens and controlling the spread of disease (VCE) – At GTAC


COVID-19 Notice: Please note that this program may require modifications to enhance physical distancing and infection control standards for delivery in 2021. GTAC continues to monitor the evolving COVID safety advice from the Department of Education and Training to ensure our programs adhere to School Operations Guidelines. GTAC will communicate with schools booked into this program to provide relevant program updates in a timely manner. 


Students model an outbreak of disease and discuss modes of transmission that can lead to infection. They then conduct investigations to identify the pathogen. They use models to learn how PCR can be used to identify the strain of virus causing the outbreak. They use PCR products to perform gel electrophoresis using E-gels. In real time students can observe the movement of DNA fragments through the E-gel and analyse their results. They perform an ELISA to look for the presence of the infectious pathogen in infected patients and determine viral load. They enter key findings into a mathematical model that measures the severity of an outbreak and discuss a number of interventions, including vaccination and using preventative medications, to bring the outbreak under control.


Level - Unit 4 VCE Biology

Venue - at GTAC in Parkville

Timing – Half day program: Morning program runs 9:30am – 11:40am, Afternoon program runs 12:30pm - 2:40pm

Approximate dates – Term 3: 3rd - 27th August 2021


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Program designers - Chris Szwed & Jacinta Duncan


There is a GTAC online student course that is identical to this program. It is recommended that students do not view/complete this course until after they have completed the GTAC program. This course can be used after participating in this GTAC program to extend student understanding related to this outbreak scenario and to prepare for their SAC task.