The Game Changer Chicago Design Lab (GCC Design Lab), a signature program for the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3) at the University of Chicago, has received a five-year, $1.2 million federal grant to investigate gameplay and game design as a way to enhance science and health education for minority groups.
The money from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will provide significant resources for Ci3’s mission to strengthen science and health education on the city’s South Side. This particular grant will establish the Hexacago Health Academy (HHA). The game-based science and health curriculum, which is named after a current game prototype designed by The GCC Lab, will use interactive approaches to teach high school students about sexual and reproductive health issues including STIs, HIV/AIDs, adolescent pregnancy and other risky behaviors such as smoking.
“We’re making and studying a genre called serious games,” said Ci3 founder, Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics, Chief of the Section of Family Planning and Contraceptive Research, and Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the Biological Sciences Division. “This project is an outgrowth of our work with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Hive Learning Network. Our goal is to demonstrate through this longitudinal study that making and playing games about science and health will help young people build skills and knowledge; develop an interest in careers in science and health; and promote college readiness.”
For the GCC Design Lab, the project is a natural extension to work that is well under way. The GCC Lab, launched in 2012, has cultivated relationships with youth and science programs across the city. The GCC Lab has also “play tested” several models that are proving the power of game-based learning as a way to promote critical thinking, teach students healthier behaviors and open teens’ minds to opportunities in STEM and health careers.