When modeling Zika, students would benefit from various ideas from Van Lehn. For example, Van Lehn discusses agent-based modeling and its benefits in model construction. Besides allowing the construction of an incredibly diverse set of models, agent-based modeling allows computers to execute the model. However, students may need additional resources to learn formal language, i.e. not drawings or natural language. There are undoubtedly many misconceptions for students learning formal language that need to be addressed.
Zika is easily modeled using agents and spurs practice using formal language. Students can quickly investigate complicated manipulations of blocks even in StarLogo to model advanced aspects of Zika.
He shows that model creation is more effective than using previously made model. Students therefore are allowed sufficient time and space to think and revise. It is especially important to emphasize model creation when there is no standard model for use in new cases such as Zika. Developing the skills to make new and creative models is a necessary skill. He assesses models by both the product and the process of creation, emphasizing the importance of both.
Another benefit seen of modeling by Van Lehn is the improvement of domain knowledge alongside model creation and use. Using models can remove misconceptions, make existing knowledge more relevant and useful, and simply add new domain knowledge. Developing additional domain knowledge through and alongside the use of models can allow programmers to create models that more accurately represent nature, even Zika.