Play Pads: Mobile Educational Health Science Activities for Children in Hospitals
University of California, Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS), in partnership with the Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland (CHRCO), proposes to design, develop, implement, and evaluate a hospital-based educational program using pedagogically rich mobile learning experiences with age-appropriate K-12 health sciences content. LHS staff will combine educational technology, curriculum, and learning research expertise to create a new, inquiry based health science program delivered through tablet computers or PlayPads. The interactive media, digital stories, and gaming on PlayPads will feature everyday concepts and important foundations in health education based on the science content and learning frameworks from successful science curricula created at LHS. Hospital patients and their families, visitors, staff, and volunteers will encounter PlayPads with finished waiting room exhibit media stations designed and constructed by Exploratorium Exhibit Services, on teaching carts deployed by hospital educators, and through individual check-out units. PlayPads content will also be available outside of the hospital setting through the Internet for extended use on personal mobile devices and computers. The mission of the PlayPads program is to increase exposure of the hospital-going public to topics directly relevant to healthy lives and families through mobile technology. PlayPads will be an inviting experience for youth, framing interactions with driving questions and common misconceptions to inspire the curiosity of participants. Youth ages 8 to 16 will experience wide-ranging interactives including: games that show the hazards of smoking, simulations of blood flow through the heart, brain quizzes to hone memory function, or lively info-graphics about the nutritional shortcomings of junk food. Given the recent strides in the affordability of touch screen technology and the rapid adoption of mobile computing ecosystems, this is an unprecedented time to build a ubiquitous health educational program within a contextually relevant environment like a hospital. PlayPads will be a model for delivering health education content in a unique educational setting leveraging the great strides in consumer mobile technology. By working with a strong, local hospital partner that serves a highly diverse ethnic and socioeconomic population, LHS staff will ensure the portability of the program for future healthcare providers. With the extensive private and public networks of both LHS and CHRCO, PlayPads will potentially have a lasting impact on health education efforts in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.