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Hexacago: A game-based approach to engaging youth in health and science

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? DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The proposed Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) project will use gameplay and game design as the foundation for an informal science education and health curriculum. The three project partners include: The University of Chicago's Game Changer Chicago Design Lab (GCC Lab); the Institute for Translational Medicine; and the Center for College Access and Success's (CCAS) GEAR UP program. The GCC Lab is an interdisciplinary game and research lab comprised of faculty, staff, students, and high school youth that design games aimed at improving academic achievement and optimizing the health and well-being of young people. GEAR UP aims to increase academic performance and preparation for post-secondary education among youth in partnering Chicago Public Schools. We will design an innovative game-based science and health curriculum intervention: Hexacago Health Academy (HHA). HHA will engage high school students in learning about and addressing major sexual and reproductive health issues and risk behaviors (e.g., STIs, HIV/AIDs, adolescent pregnancy, smoking). HHA will use game-play, interaction with STEM science and health professionals, and mentoring. The proposed SEPA project will have three phases: 1) Hexacago game design (years 1 and 2) and development of the HHA (year 3); 2) rigorous evaluation of HHA in a randomized controlled trial (years 4); and 3) Dissemination and communication (year 5). We hypothesize that youth randomized to HHA will have improved academic performance, science and health career interest compared to those randomized to the control group. The overall objective of this proposal is to create a rich, game-based learning experience to improve academic performance, science and health career interest, and health behaviors.
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