Despite the inclusion of a lab component in many STEM courses, college students often struggle to apply these skills in different situations. This outbreak simulation gives students a taste of some of the challenges associated with being in charge of an essential research project. Students will hone their grant writing, presentation skills, experimental design, data analysis, ability to prepare for failed experiments, and ability to understand the big picture of their research. Senior undergraduate biology students are split into small groups that represent distinct laboratories. Each laboratory receives the same starting information about an emerging pandemic. The laboratories must use their knowledge and innovation to design a series of experiments to identify the pathogen, and progress toward a treatment and/or a vaccine to limit the global spread of infection. My students unanimously felt that the outbreak simulation helped solidify their understanding of research and improved their engagement. One student reflected that “[the simulation] was very effective in furthering my limited knowledge on pandemics, the characteristics of disease spread, experimental design, writing grants, types of assays, and vaccine development. Despite studying science for so many years, experimental research is not something that had been well addressed.”

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