O2: a platform for infectious DISEase education, preparedness, and data generation


brief history of o2

The Operation Outbreak project began back in 2016 when Todd Brown, civics teacher at Sarasota Military Academy Prep school, created a module to teach middle school students the mechanisms for outbreak response and containment from the perspective of public health and governance. This module concluded with an “outbreak simulation” experiential learning activity, which guided several hundred students on how to respond, through coordination and community, in a real-world outbreak scenario. Next year, Pardis Sabeti, genetics professor at Harvard University and the Broad Institute, joined the project as a scientific adviser. Later in 2017, Andres Colubri, a computational researcher in Pardis’ lab, also became part of the team and developed an app that simulates pathogen transmission over Bluetooth. The O2 app uses p2pkit, a peer-to-peer proximity SDK, and Estimote software and hardware to enable Bluetooth communication between devices. All the pieces came together in the outbreak simulation that took place at SMA prep in March 23 2018, and we are now aiming at creating an open platform that any teacher or researcher around the world could use to organize their own outbreak simulations.

O2 is made possible by L’Oreal/AAAS For Women in Science award for STEM Education, Voya Financial Unsung Heroes Grant, Florida Association of International Baccalaureate World Schools Grant, and Toshiba Foundation of America Grades 6-12 STEM Grant.

ORGANIZE your own Outbreak Simulation!

We are currently working on making O2 accessible to anyone around the world interested to organize their own outbreak simulations and to adapt the learning materials we prepared over the years. At this time, O2 is not yet widely available, but if you are would like to conduct a pilot of O2 at your institution, please get in touch with us!

The O2 app is freely available on the Apple and Google app stores, but it requires to first determine the parameters of the outbreak (number of participants, duration and others). We will be happy to work with you to set the outbreak parameters just right for a successful experiential learning activity. Once this is done, you only need to distribute a unique code to all the participants of the outbreak, which they will enter into the O2 app to enter your “outbreak campaign”.


The O2 goals

  • STEM education through interconnected coursework and experiential learning

  • Outbreak preparation tool for emotional and behavioral training.

  • Epidemiological modeling by generating unique dynamic data.