Prestigious Journal Publishes Winchester Research

10th February 2020

Students and teachers from Winchester College and nearby Barton Peveril College have had a paper published in the prestigious, international journal Physics Education.

The paper uses a well-established mathematical model in a new way to show how plagues develop. It was written by physics teachers Dr John Cullerne and Dr Andy French, with some of the challenging mathematics and software tackled by Winchester sixth-former Dexter and Barton Peveril student Alfie. In addition, Dr Robin Thompson of Oxford University was involved.

Between them the group developed special software to analyse both the 1666 bubonic plague of Eyam, a village in Derbyshire and the 2014-16 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.

The outbreak in Eyam in 1666 was remarkable for the way the villagers quarantined themselves in a brave – but ultimately useless – attempt to stop the spread of the plague, which had more than a year earlier spread from London.

The paper – The pedagogical power of context: extending the Epidemiology of Eyam – is the second in a series from Winchester College about creating mathematical models of those who infect and those who are susceptible during epidemics.

“The language and techniques of mathematics provide the syntax of a narrative which incorporates history, medicine and computing,” said Dr French. “This could usefully contribute to economics, human geography and other social sciences.”

Dr French added that the chief aim of the work behind the paper is to extend a cross-curricular, project-based enterprise, which could be used as a template for an extended project qualification (EPQ) or an equivalent long-term study for sixth-formers. EPQs will be an option for Winchester College students to complement their A level studies from September 2020.