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Disease Detectives - Honoring Youth Winners

In an effort to promote interest in the growing field of epidemiology, the high school winners of the Disease Detectives event of the Science Olympiad from Southern California will be honored at this year's Epidemiology Exchange Conference.

Science Olympiad competitions are like academic track meets, consisting of a series of 23 team events in each division (Division B is middle school; Division C is high school). Each year, a portion of the events are rotated to reflect the ever-changing nature of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and technology. By combining events from all disciplines, Science Olympiad encourages a wide cross-section of students to get involved. Emphasis is placed on active, hands-on group participation. Through Science Olympiad, students, teachers, parents, principals and business leaders bond together and work toward a shared goal.

Science Olympiad Disease Detectives Event

Disease Detectives provides students an opportunity to hone their skills as science sleuths by learning the scientific method employed by epidemiologists-or disease detectives. This event requires students to apply principles of epidemiology to a published report of a real-life health situation or problem. The event is intended for teams of up to two people. Approximate time to completion is 50 minutes.

The competition requires students to use a systematic, scientific approach to investigating epidemics (e.g., finding and counting cases, comparative reasoning, hypothesis generation, hypothesis testing). Related task and knowledge areas of epidemiology and other biomedical sciences include:

  • basic definitions of epidemiological terms (e.g., epidemiology, epidemic, outbreak, incidence, rates, public health surveillance);

  • categories of disease-causing agents (e.g., bacteria, toxins, mechanical forces, behavior);

  • modes of disease spread (e.g., person-to-person, food borne, airborne, vector borne);

  • the triads of elements of analysis of epidemiological data collected to investigate outbreaks and other problems (e.g., time/place/person, and agent/host/environment); and

  • the basis for taking action to control and prevent the spread of disease.



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