How do you diagnose and help a three-eyed monster with a heart problem? That’s the challenge and fun in the new, free Monster Heart Medic iPhone/iPad app, now available in the App Store. This educational adventure game uses animated monster stories, interactive simulators, arcade games, virtual diagnostic tests and more to explore the cardiovascular system and how it’s affected by healthy living (The app’s Android version is coming soon).
Monster Heart Medic introduces kids to a friendly monster named Ragnar who is in need of a helping hand. As kids uncover Ragnar’s health problems and guide him towards heart-healthier habits, they learn about common cardiovascular risks like high blood pressure, diagnostic tests for conditions like high cholesterol, and behavioral changes like diet and exercise that can keep a monster—and themselves—healthy. The app was developed by UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science and funded by a National Institutes of Health SEPA Award.
“In planning this app, we asked health professionals working in children’s hospitals what are the biggest health challenges kids today are facing. High blood pressure and childhood obesity go hand in hand,” notes Principal Investigator Darrell Porcello, Director of the Center for Technology Innovation and the national Howtosmile.org STEM project at the Lawrence Hall of Science. “By playing the Monster Heart Medic game, kids will be making healthy lifestyle choices for their monster. The game play will also encourage kids to think about and make healthier choices when it comes to their own food and activities.”
In English or Spanish, Monster Heart Medic players journey through an urban world packed with colorful monsters and offbeat characters. Animated monster stories, fact achievement challenges, and arcade action levels help players build their health knowledge. Interactive segments teach how medical tools like a stethoscope and pressure cuff help diagnose cardiovascular disease. Dynamic simulations illustrate the dangerous effects of high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.
Monster Heart Medic was designed with the goal of teaching:
1) what a healthy cardiovascular system does in the human body.
2) possible problems with the cardiovascular system, including information on symptoms, conditions, tests, and treatments.
3) how healthy eating and exercise habits can help keep the cardiovascular system healthy.
The Monster Heart Medic game app is designed for kids ages 9-11, but older kids and adults can play along with younger family members, friends or students. As they help Ragnar the monster, players are encouraged to become more aware of their own and their families’ health habits and consider healthy options for the future. The game draws all its health recommendations from established sources including the National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Monster Heart Medic is a companion app to DIY Human Body, also created by the Lawrence Hall of Science. Both apps focus on helping kids and families learn more about how their bodies work and staying healthy. DIY Human Body extends the learning in Monster Heart Medic by providing step-by-step instructions and visuals for hands-on activities that connect science concepts to complex body systems.
About the Lawrence Hall of Science
The Lawrence Hall of Science, the University of California, Berkeley’s public science center, has been providing parents, kids, and educators with opportunities to engage with science since 1968. The Hall investigates, creates, and evaluates educational material and methods, professional development programs, and hands-on learning experiences for their public science center, schools, communities, and homes. They develop programs that engage across the learning continuum—from simple curiosity to deep understanding. Their programs are highly regarded in any learning environment—from informal to afterschool to formal K-12 classrooms. In the mobile environment, the Hall has produced a series of DIY science learning apps which have been featured in Wired Magazine, Gizmodo UK, FamilyFun Magazine, and Homeschool.com and won a Parents’ Choice Silver Medal. DIY Nano, DIY Nano HD, DIY Sun Science, and DIY Human Body let students and families have fun learning science at home, at school, or in out-of-school settings with engaging hands-on activities, interactives, and educational videos.