Skip Navigation
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Your Environment. Your Health.


Export to Word (
Principal Investigator: Kuhn, Tamara J
Institute Receiving Award Dfusion, Inc.
Location Scotts Valley, CA
Grant Number R43ES034563
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 27 Jun 2022 to 30 Jun 2023
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): ABSTRACT: Simulation for Environmental Exposure Education (S3E) Studies have documented cumulative health effects of chemical and nonchemical exposures on children that can impact them for a lifetime. In-home environmental exposure risks are particularly impactful on health because children spend 80-90% of their time indoors, and impact disproportionately falls on disadvantaged youth. These environmental exposures have been shown to increase inflammation, asthma, lead poisoning, cancer and a host of other conditions. In addition, just a subset of these environmentally mediated diseases in US children is estimated to cost $76.6 billion per year. To provide the knowledge and skills to address these challenges and to inspire awareness and action, young people need to develop their environmental health literacy. This project proposes to do that through the design and pilot testing of a mobile serious game, S3E, to improve environmental health literacy among middle-school age youth by scaffolding learning and communication about toxic environmental exposures occurring at home. The game will be built using a 2.5D platformer-style architecture with a simulation of socio-physical dynamics. Players will: 1) Design the physical and social environments of their own simulated world, including everything from using 360 degree scans from their own home to designing their ultimate fantasy space; 2) Add, remove, and modify objects that impact environmental exposure; 3) Move, interact, communicate, and take action in a virtual experience to avoid environmental exposure and sickness, injury, or death. As the player moves throughout the game, they will have access to data about the environment. The game will have embedded real-time displays that inform students of simulated sensor readings for contaminant levels in air, water, soil, surfaces, and bodies of humans and pets. Increasing adverse health in response to these contaminants is represented by animated acute symptoms in players and non-player characters (family, pets, etc.), such as dizziness, nausea, coughing, difficulty breathing, or unconsciousness. In the process of playing the game, students will discover personalized solutions to reduce exposure (opening a window, removing a heater, etc.) and build models and mechanisms of environmental exposure. The content will be aligned with Environmental Health Literacy and Science and Engineering practice in the Next Generation Science Standards to facilitate integration of the game into formal educational settings. In Phase I of the project, we will conduct formative research with youth aged 11-13, including focus groups, interviews, and recruiting a diverse panel to co-design the game, develop a portion of the game using two exposure risks–secondhand/thirdhand smoke and carbon monoxide poisoning–and play test and pilot test the game to evaluate usability, playability, and impact on knowledge and intentions around environmental risk in the home. Phase II will complete game development with the addition of more features and more exposure risks and conduct a randomized clinical trial to assess the impact of the game on environmental health literacy and action.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 94 - Communication Research/Environmental Health Literacy
Secondary: 03 - Carcinogenesis/Cell Transformation
Publications No publications associated with this grant
Program Officer Daniel Shaughnessy
to Top