Jack Miller is a graduate student in Educational Technology at San
Diego State University. He is CEO of Pacific College of Oriental
Instructional Objective The learners will be able to memorize
the names of anatomical structure and their placement in relation to
other anatomical structures. In the affective domain, the students
will have fun learning what it often considered a difficult
Learners/Context The learners are students in the first year
of the Master of Traditional Oriental Medicine degree program at
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Each learner has had a course
that covers the nervous, muscular, skeletal, and circulatory systems
of the human body. Additionally the learner has had a course,
Acupuncture Points 1, that covers the energetic system, known as the
The game is designed to be played during or after class to
reinforce the connection between the systems and to help the student
visualize the location and memorize the names of the components of
each system in the anterior and posterior views of the upper and
Rationale A game is an appropriate format for this situation
because it provides a visual interface for a primarily visual
educational task. The particular rules of the game reinforce the
interconnectedness and order inherent in the subject itself. The card
game is portable. It is quick and easy to play in almost any
situation. The rules are familiar, therefore the game's learning
curve does not inhibit learners from attempting the game.
Rules Two to four people may play at the same time.
The game is played in the following manner:
- The object of the game is to get two runs of three and four
cards representing the sequential (deep to superficial) order of
the five main anatomical components composing each suit. The
dealer deals seven cards to each player. The remaining cards are
placed face down and the top card is turned over to begin the
discard stack. Moving clockwise from the dealer, the first player
chooses either the discarded card or a card from the face down
pile. The player determines which cards to keep and discards the
extra card. The first player to create two runs of three and four
cards places the cards down and must name three structures (e.g.,
three bones, three muscles) represented on each card. The other
players refer to a reference sheet that indicates all the
structures on each card to ascertain whether the player is
correct. If the player cannot name at least three structures on
each card, the player subtracts 1 point from his or her score for
each card on which he or she failed to name three structures. The
player with the winning hand adds the value of the cards laid
down, subtracts the points for any unnamed structures and adds the
total to his or her score. The players with the losing hands add
the value of their cards and subtract it from their scores. The
game is over when a player reaches a predetermined score. If a
time limit is set instead, the winner is the player with the
highest score at the end of the period.
- The Use of "Face" Cards. A player may earn more points
by using cards with higher values and face cards which have a
value of ten points. To get a run using a face card, the player
must do one of the following.
1) Fill in the structures between the structures represented on
the card. For example, if the player had the Bones and Arteries
card, a run of three would be created by having the corresponding
Muscles card. A run of four would be created by adding the Nerves
2) If the player has the Bones and Muscles card (which
represent the first two cards in a sequence), a run of three would
be created by adding the Arteries card. A run of four would be
created by adding the Nerves card.
Card Design Each card has a representation of an anatomical
structure of the upper or lower extremity from the anterior or
posterior view. They are the same size as playing cards and have a
pattern on the back.
Deck Design The desk has a total of 40 cards: four suits with
ten cards in each suit. The suits are as follows: Anterior view of
arm, posterior view of arm, anterior view of leg, posterior view of
leg. The first six cards include the bones (1), muscles (2), arteries
(3), nerves (4), veins (5), and meridians (6). These are the
equivalent of the numbered cards in a deck of playing cards and their
value is indicated in parentheses and corresponds roughly to
the order of the structures from deep to superficial. The following
four cards are the equivalent of face cards: Bones and Muscles, Bones
and Arteries, and Bones and Nerves, Bones and Veins. Each "face" card
has a value of 10.
Anterior Arm Arteries (3), Anterior Arm Veins (5)
Anterior Arm Bones and Muscles (10), Anterior Arm Muscles (2)
Design Process I started by considering my audience and their
needs. Anatomy is a difficult subject with a large component of
memorization. Initially I wanted to design a card game in which the
cards were printed on transparencies so that "runs" would actually be
layers of bone, muscle, arteries, veins, and nerves. Unfortunately,
transparent cards would allow your competitor to see what you needed.
Perhaps this idea would be more applicable to a board game or
computer simulation. I considered putting the number value on cards
and may do that yet, however it may detract from focusing on the
structures and simply getting the numbers in order.
I also considered (and could still create) a game in which the
skeleton could be assembled distally to proximally (for appendicular
skeleton) and inferiorly to superiorly (for the axial skeleton). This
would lend itself to a solitaire structure quite nicely.
I also considered ideas for games using acupuncture points. Since
each point on each meridian is numbered sequentially, each meridian
could have been a suit and the point could have the value of its
number. A kind of war game could be developed where the player would
win the pile if his point number was higher AND he or she could
recite the location of the point.
References Super Anatomy Collection (1993). LifeArt
Collections. Cleveland, OH: Tech Pool Studios.
Last updated by Jack
Miller on September 28, 1995.
Return to the Card
Game Table of Contents.
Educational Technology 670, Fall 1995.