Van Lehn introduces many helpful models that could be used to model Zika, but what I found most interesting about his approach in teaching modeling is that he focused on scaffolding a lot. I think this is very beneficial for students that may not be familiar with how to compose models of complex systems.
As far as modeling Zika, the constraint system model would definitely work. Constraint systems predict the possible states of the behavior of a system. This model can predict how the whole system is affected if there is a change in a single variable. Zika is all about behaviors and predicting how the rest of the population is impacted If just one mosquito picks the virus up. There are several variables that could change the path of virus such as areas with a lot of standing water, or even weather, that can change the amount of mosquitoes that then might eventually be able to predict the spread of Zika.
Agent-based models, for modeling the emergent behavior of systems, would be helpful for modeling Zika too. Programming all of the variables of the system into a program such as Starlogo Nova is a useful modeling tool because students are able to physically see how the changes they input affect the whole system.
Qualitative model construction as scaffolding is a really great idea for students when first starting out with complex modeling systems. This idea suggests that students should be required to do concept mapping before doing quantitative model construction. I think this is really important. This reminded me of Hestenes, when he stressed, “one cannot discover what one cannot conceive.” The concept of really understanding the material before completing complex tasks with the material is essential to true understanding.