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How are public health data visualized?

Lesson Plan
CDC NERD Academy Flatten the Curve Graphic

In module 5, students discover the important information that data visualizations, such as epidemic (or epi) curves, convey about disease spread. Students use surveillance data to create epi curves, identify patterns that reveal likely transmission modes, and make recommendations for prevention strategies to reduce the spread of disease. Students also learn what it takes to pursue a public health career as a health communication specialist.

Educational Video for Students

This video introduces students to the concepts they will be exploring in CDC NERD Academy Module 5: How are public health data visualized? This video explains how public health experts use data visualizations like epidemic curves, or epi curves for short, to illustrate data in a way that is easier for people to understand. Students learn about four types of patterns they may see in epi curves and what each one means about an outbreak. After this video, students will be able to answer the question, “How are public health data visualized?” and they will be ready to participate in an activity and group discussion about data visualization and epi curves.

Activity Demonstration for Teachers

This instructional video guides educators through the activities of Module 5: How are public health data visualized? The video provides a brief explanation of what students will learn in this Module, including how to use data to create epi curves and how to interpret epi curve patterns, and tells educators how to organize their classroom, group students, and prepare handouts for student participation in the learning activity. This video explains how to assist students with completing their data visualization activity and provides suggested timing for the activity, guidance for class discussion, and tips for success.

Public Health Career Spotlight: Health Communication Specialist

A health communication specialist creates communication strategies, messages, and products to educate the public, news media, and other audience segments on health issues. During an outbreak response, they develop messages and visuals that communicate culturally relevant, timely and actionable information.

Male health communication specialist standing holding phone.

Download this poster and display in the classroom for reference and discussion during student activities.

DOWNLOADABLE Poster pdf icon[315 KB, 1 Page, 508]

See the collection of public health career spotlights from all modules in this curriculum.

To learn more about public health STEM careers, visit See Yourself in a Public Health Career (