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It’s True, Sickle Cell Education Can Be Fun!

April 27, 2015 by Andrea


Let's be honest. The average person is not going to be passionate about reading through pages and pages (and pages) of research journals and clinical studies on sickle cell. But, that doesn't mean they're not interested in learning more about the disease or helping advocate for people who live with it. All that it does mean is that the way information is being presented to them is dull and tedious; what's more, there's no real way for the person to relate it to real-world experiences and cultivate a hands-on understanding. To help bridge the gap for students, community members, and others you may seek to spread awareness, dial down the mundane reading and turn up the interactivity. With Edheads's Sickle Cell DNA game, you can do just that -- all you need is a classroom or center with access to computers or tablets; students can even play on their phones! 

The key word in all this? Play. According to the Institute of Play, "The meaning of knowing today has shifted from being able to recall and repeat information to being able to find it, evaluate it and use it compellingly at the right time and in the right context." This can be applied to all age groups and all subject matters. The Institute continues, "Games ... are designed to create a compelling complex problem space or world, which players come to understand through self-directed exploration. They are scaffolded to deliver just-in-time learning and to use data to help players understand how they are doing, what they need to work on and where to go next. Games create a compelling need to know, a need to ask, examine, assimilate and master certain skills and content areas ... There is something in play that activates the tenacity and persistence required for effective learning." 

At the start of the Sickle Cell DNA game, players are transported to a virtual clinic, where a virtual genetic counselor greets them and explains that their job will be to review the family history of the Williams couple to see if they may be carriers of the sickle cell trait. They are also informed that the couple has come to the clinic because they are considering having children. Throughout the game, players are exposed to genogram interpretations, DNA building, DNA coding, protein folding, and finally, genetic testing and counseling. Not only is this tool great for helping players gain an even deeper understanding of sickle cell disease, but it also introduces students to the concept of personalized medicine and the career field of genetic counseling. Give the game a try by clicking here

What do you think of this game? Will you use it with people you teach about sickle cell? Tell us in the comments below!

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