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The Outbreak Squad: Do You Have What It Takes to Lead the Squad?

The cover image of the Outbreak Squad homescreen shows a dark background with blue green and yellow circular designs. the top part of the screen has the blue white and green logo and the bottom half has the four characters. there is an on screen button the reads "Play Game".
Outbreak Squad homepage

Our free digital game Outbreak Squad helps players learn how government assists and directs communities when foodborne outbreaks occur. Outbreak Squad is a multilevel, web-based game that encourages students to consider governmental systems, strategies, and global implications through the lens of foodborne outbreaks. The game is appropriate for students in grades 5 and up and can be played at home or in formal and informal classrooms.

The game explores how sources of contamination can happen in different times/locations, in the field, at home, with the supplier, or in restaurants, and the impact of balancing various solutions with budget limits. To defeat the outbreak monsters, players use in-game characters to research, educate, heal, and protect people.

The Outbreak Squad website also includes:

  • Additional information about the heroes and their abilities.

  • A gameplay video with visual descriptions.

  • Careers information for young people about jobs in education, the food industry, and government.

The outbreak monsters in the game are modeled after actual outbreaks of foodborne illness in the U.S. The website includes descriptions of these outbreaks, as well as information about the squad members, whose roles are based on careers that directly impact disease outbreaks, such as educators, healthcare personnel, and regulatory authorities.

The project was created in collaboration with Dr. Jennifer Richards, University of Kentucky - Knoxville and supported by a SPECA Challenge Grant, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2015-38414-24223.

In 2020, the game was a Gold Award Winner in the category Innovative Media Program from the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences.

Written By: Pamela Martinez, Assistant Professor & Extension Technology Specialist


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