A simulation designed to deepen understanding of infectious agents and public health emergencies such as the Ebola outbreak is highlighted in a National Geographic Society video featuring cadets at the Sarasota Military Academy (SMA) and computational geneticist and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Pardis Sabeti.
The video, “Virtually Viral,” highlights the hundreds of SMA cadets and staff who take part in the school’s award-winning STEM education program Operation Outbreak participating in an educational simulation that replicates a real-world outbreak scenario. The simulation is led in partnership with Dr. Sabeti, and Dr. Andres Colubri in her group. In her lab, Dr. Sabeti uses computational models to study datasets of infectious diseases, including the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Operation Outbreak experience underscores the combined power of scientific data, STEM methods, problem-solving skills, collaboration, and creativity to advance solutions for disease prevention.
Working alongside Drs. Sabeti and Colubri to create and use the Operation Outbreak (OO) educational platform has been an incredible partnership and experience for the cadets at the Sarasota Military Academy. The activity not only deepens the students’ knowledge of a real-world public health scenario, but it builds a strong foundation for our up-and-coming scientists, researchers, and explorers. said SMA Outreach Director Dr. Todd Brown, the lead creator of the OO program. Dr. Todd Brown, SMA Outreach Director and lead creator of the OO program
The O2 platform began in 2016 when Dr. Brown created a module to teach SMA Prep students about outbreak responses and containment with a public health and government perspective, in partnership with the Sabeti lab at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. The platform integrates an academic unit covering relevant science and humanities subjects that culminates in the “outbreak simulation” experiential learning activity.
It was hard to get a true understanding of what people were going through during an outbreak. But, this has really given me perspective and a whole appreciation for what they have to go through to accomplish anything. Grace Wagler, 17-year-old Cadet Captain at Sarasota Military Academy.
The activity guides hundreds of students on how to respond through a coordinated effort and use of technology while learning about biology and public health in the process. Recently, the O2 program was named the World’s Most Innovative Hybrid Learning Program at the 2019/2020 Wharton-QS Reimagine Education Awards Ceremony in London, England.
It is truly awe-inspiring what a creative and immersive educational experience Todd and his colleagues and students have created at SMAPrep,” says Dr. Sabeti. “These students surprise and delight us year after year, and it is a privilege for us to be part of it.” Dr. Pardis Sabeti, computational geneticist and National Geographic Explorer
The “Virtually Viral” video is part of National Geographic’s extensive resource library, a free educational resource for students, families, and educators. To view the video, visit https://www.nationalgeographic.org/media/virtually-viral/.
To learn more about the OO program, visit https://www.o2.education/.
About Sarasota Military Academy
Founded in 2002, Sarasota Military Academy (SMA) is a public charter school, college preparatory academy, and an accredited IB Diploma and Middle Years Programme (MYP) School with two campuses located in Sarasota, Florida. Combining extraordinary academics with the highest military principles of camaraderie, focus, leadership, integrity, compassion, poise, honor, and respect, SMA’s mission is to graduate young men and women who will confidently define their personal and unique goals for success in a multi-cultural and globalized world. Sarasota Military Academy High School is located at 801 N. Orange Avenue and Sarasota Military Academy Prep Middle School, is located at 3101 Bethel Lane. To learn more about SMA, visit http://www.sarasotamilitaryacademy.org/.