College of Arts and Sciences


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This activity guide was originally published in the following book: NE STEM 4U. 2022. Network science: Play dough liaisons. In Hands-on with NE STEM 4U: For Budding STEMers in Grades 4–8, pp. 159–167. Omaha, NE: University of Nebraska–Omaha.

“These activity guides are supported by the Worlds of Connections SEPA [R25GM129836] at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. This content is solely the responsibility of the creators and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the University of Nebraska.”


Brokers play an important role in the access of information and transactions. What makes a person a broker is the fact that the parties the broker is connected to have no way of communicating with each other without the broker. This gives a broker power in what they choose to do with the information they have received. For more information, see the brokerage role sheet (Handout 2). According to the brokerage role sheet, there are five different types of brokers. The brokerage roles can all be depicted as having directed or undirected lines, except for the gatekeeper and the representative. Directed lines are used to differentiate between gatekeepers and representatives, but if the lines are undirected, then the situation depicts a broker that is both a gatekeeper and representative. Vertices that are different colors in the brokerage role depictions mean that they belong to different groups, while vertices that are the same color indicate that they belong to the same group. The second vertex in every brokerage role depiction on the brokerage role sheet is the broker. A liaison is a type of broker where everyone belongs to a different group or category. People are not always aware that they are brokers, so analyzing their social network can allow them to determine their role(s) and discover how information flows within that network.

Objective The student will understand the basic concept of brokerage roles and their applications to health communication through gameplay. The student will be able to demonstrate how liaisons, a form of broker, have more power than others in communication networks. The student will engage with NGSS Crosscutting Concept 4. Systems/System Models.