Solve the Outbreak
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Solve the Outbreak is an engaging educational app that puts kids in the role of disease detectives. The program was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote health and science education. Kids can choose from several outbreak scenarios such as "Birthday Party Gone Bad" or "Connect the Spots." Once they choose their scenario, kids get clues and analyze data in order to solve the scenario and help prevent further outbreaks. Kids can earn points and awards as they work through the scenarios, but the real motivation for curious minds is solving the mystery. The app has plenty of additional features such as a video from the CDC, a glossary, a help button for navigating tips, and a section that explains epidemiology in great detail. Although it is presented in a scientific context, parents need to know that the glossary contains the word "abortion," and a YouTube link gives kids access to lots of iffy content. Additionally, the outbreak scenarios contain descriptions that may be difficult for some kids to handle. For example, one scenario describes people bleeding to death or slipping into comas. At the time of this review, a link to the CDC website takes users to a page that has an article about pregnancy.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- analyzing evidence
- applying information
- asking questions
- thinking critically
Engagement, Approach, Support
The realistic scenarios draw kids in, and the challenge of solving the mystery keeps them engaged.
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.
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.
What's it about?
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 answers in an outbreak. Social media is integrated in the app so kids can share their scores and progress.
Is it any good?
The CDC has done an impressive job of creating an engaging, realistic approach to teaching kids about epidemiology. Solving the outbreaks motivates and empowers kids while building strong critical thinking skills. Kids get immediate feedback when answering questions, including an explanation for an incorrect answer. Success depends somewhat on prior knowledge, so kids who are familiar with health science topics will likely experience less frustration when trying to solve the outbreaks.
There are plenty of helpful links for kids who want to learn more or who need some extra help. For example, each term in the glossary is followed by a link to a website where users can learn about the term in further detail or context.
Families can talk about...
Discuss the basics of disease control and prevention prior to solving the outbreaks. Visit the CDC website together for help.
Have kids write their own outbreak scenarios with clues and data and see if you can solve it.