Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2014
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Solve the Outbreak

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Become a disease detective -- read clues, analyze data, save lives

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Science
  • Health & Wellness
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
8-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (3 Reviews)

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Pros: Realistic outbreak scenarios help kids experience health science from the perspective of an actual disease detective; solving mysteries builds critical thinking skills.

Cons: The outbreak scenarios are text-heavy and require a lot of reading; links in app can take users to mature content.

Bottom Line: Solve the Outbreak is a free, engaging resource that teaches kids about disease control and prevention.

Solve the Outbreak would work great in conjunction with a health science or human body unit. It may be particularly useful when teaching a lesson on the immune system. Have students work in small groups to solve each outbreak scenario and keep a running tally of group scores. You can give the group with the highest score an award, such as "Senior Disease Detective Team." As a class, discuss the challenges of solving each scenario and have groups write their own scenarios that their classmates can try to solve. 

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Solving mysteries is engaging, and saving lives is rewarding. In Solve the Outbreak, kids get to do both. There are 12 realistic outbreak scenarios to choose from, each with its own clever title. Once kids tap on a scenario, a box pops up that provides the following data: number sick, hospitalizations, deaths, and location. Kids tap the Start button to continue and are presented with a brief overview of the mission. Once they accept the mission, kids have to analyze the scenario using clues, data, and definitions of key vocabulary terms. They must correctly answer a series of questions in order to determine the source of the disease and the best course of action to prevent further illnesses and deaths. Kids earn points as they work through the scenario and can make their way from "Trainee" to "Disease Detective." They can also earn achievements such as "Smarty Pants" for looking up glossary terms and "Clever Clogs" for correctly answering four questions in an outbreak. Social media is integrated in the app, so kids can share their scores and progress. Scenarios can be solved over and over, so multiple players can use the app.

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Kids can learn about epidemiology and the method of determining the cause of diseases in a population. Using verbal clues and data displayed in tables and graphs, kids apply critical-thinking skills to analyze information, answer questions, and eventually figure out the source of a disease and how to prevent further illnesses within a population. The outbreak scenarios include tappable key terms that link to an extensive glossary.

Kids can find loads of information to help them learn about epidemiology and what it's like to be a real disease detective. Solving the outbreak scenarios requires some serious problem-solving skills, so kids would be best prepared for success if they have some background knowledge of health science before diving into the detective work.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

The realistic scenarios draw kids in, and the challenge of solving the mystery keeps them engaged.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Using clues and data to solve problems promotes critical thinking skills. Kids get instant feedback for incorrect answers, which helps them build knowledge and solve similar problems in other outbreak scenarios.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

A help feature explains how to play, how scores, badges, and achievements are awarded, and how to start solving outbreaks. Plenty of links to the CDC website offer additional support and information about epidemiology.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 3 reviews) (3 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Pat D. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Falcon Creek Middle School
Aurora, CO
Increases critical thinking and problem solving

Increasing critical thinking and problem solving is part of the skills needed for our students to be successful in school and in their lives. The analysis of data is one of the science practices of the NGSS and common to science classes. If students are having fun they will continue to practice those skills.

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