Operation Outbreak is an innovative platform for STEM education on infectious diseases and outbreak preparedness created by Sarasota Military Academy Prep School and the Sabeti Lab at TheBroad Institute of Harvard and MIT. The platform integrates an academic unit covering relevant science and humanities subjects with a culminating “outbreak simulation” experiential learning activity. The activity replicates a real-world outbreak scenario and guides students on how to respond through a coordinated effort and use of technology, teaching them biology and public health in the process. Operation Outbreak’s mobile app lets users customize a virtual virus: how infectious and virulent it will be and whether it will spread asymptomatically. On-screen emojis differentiate the healthy, the sick, and the deceased. Participants can earn digital “masks” by taking in-app quizzes on topics such as epidemiology, historical pandemics, and the role of the World Health Organization. The Outbreak team has crafted standards-aligned lesson plans in two broad categories—science and governance—that can be tailored to different levels of complexity. The team has also partnered with Fathom Information Design to create a dashboard that displays time-lapse renderings of the simulation: participants are shown as numbered dots, color-coded according to infection status, which move in and out of contact with one another, spreading the virtual virus, getting sick, and then recovering (or not). A simulation visualization is posted on YouTube. The app is free for iOS and Android users.
SageModeler is an intuitive modeling tool being developed at TheConcord Consortium and the CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University for middle school and high school students to build their own models and validate their model design using real-world data.
TechGirlz is a program of Creating IT Futures, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit of CompTIA, which inspires middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers. To achieve its mission, TechGirlz has created engaging, interactive “TechShopz” led by industry professionals, community leaders, and students.
You do not have to go far from home to travel somewhere amazing. Every state hosts natural and technological marvels that you may never have seen. Popular Science magazine suggests 50 science-y destinations that are well worth a visit—each is within a drivable distance from the state’s largest population center.