Project GetUp A Game For Fighting Childhood Obesity

Play GetUp

The question of whether science learning in games can effect real change in students everyday scientific understandings and behavior is still unanswered. Acknowledging the open question of how game learning can drive "real life" change, this project addresses one of the most concerning issues facing our country — a dramatic increase in childhood obesity and chronic disease - by providing an innovative technology-based solution to stimulate children's knowledge and skills for lifelong personal health management.

At the University of California, Davis, the School of Education is partnering with the Foods for Health Institute (FFHI), a multidisciplinary research group that develops and translates personalized approaches for health optimization. Together with Play4Change Lab, this team is developing an education-based solution to children’s poor diet and health in the form of a multi-platform game that uses data feeds from a scalable range of health assessment tools to provide personalized health feedback and lifestyle guidance.

The objective of this exploratory research project (GET-UP: Gaming for Educating Teens to Understand Personal Health) is to investigate the relationships among learning, identity, health, and gaming through (a) engagement in an educational game for ages 11-14 incorporating users' personal health data and (b) the study of how young users' health-related knowledge, behaviors, skills, attitudes and decision making — both within the game and outside it — evolve as they play.

Outcomes of this exploratory two-year research project include more definitive knowledge on how educational games facilitate student identity, learning and informed decision making. The understanding of how children respond to personalized health feedback will serve as the basis for tailored health education strategies that acknowledge human phenotypic and lifestyle variations.

Project Partners


School of Education + Foods For Health Institute, University of California, Davis

The School of Education at the University of California Davis leverages high caliber research, teaching, and public engagement to confront and eliminate inequities through the power of knowledge and the promise of education.  Faculty work at the intersection of policy, community, and schools to specifically increase educational opportunities for cultural and linguistic minorities, improve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) curricula and teacher training, and create transformative learning environments for all students.  The School of Education is dedicated to interdisciplinary research that tackles contemporary problems by transcending traditional academic boundaries, and faculty routinely work with colleagues across campus, throughout California and the nation, and around the world.

The Foods for Health Institute (FFHI) is a multidisciplinary research group that works to develop assessment technologies that accurately measure health, discover the molecular targets of health that are modifiable by food and lifestyle; and translate the discoveries at the molecular level to personalized food, lifestyle and education solutions. FFHI’s Children’s Health and Education Program focuses specifically on engaging children in educational curricula that build skills in personal health management.

Play4Change Lab

The Play4Change Lab produces games that benefit social causes. The vision of the organization includes a hybrid lab that encompasses the concepts and missions of Serious Games (educational), Games-for-Change (social activism) and Alternative Reality Games. We specialize in games integrating next generation technologies such as Sensor Networks (the Internet of Things), Geolocation, Data Visualization, Social Networking, Augmented Reality, Virtual Currencies, Micro-Transactions, and Virtual Merchandise. Developing commercial-grade games that can engage large audiences in creating measurable social change is the Play4Change Lab’s highest priority. Helping to develop best practices and a set of standards, as well as impact reports and research is also a high priority.