Womb to Tomb


by Mark Simpson

(E-mail)

Mark Simpson is a full-time high school science teacher and graduate student in Educational Technology(SDSU).


Instructional Objective The learners will be able to identify factors, traits, and lifestyles which contribute to life longevity or early death. They will be able to state whether the trait or lifestyle has a negative or positive effect on life span..


Learners/Context The learners are students in high school health or life science classes, learning about lifetime choices and factors which historically and statisticly have influenced how long people live.

The game is designed to be played during or after a unit on lifestyle choices, health issues, or research results. The chances of getting certain cards(traits) is approximately proportional to the approximate odds within the population in the United States of having the actual trait. Some of the traits may seem positive to these students, but when considering life span it may be negative. It sometimes happens also in the other direction.


Rationale A game is an appropriate format for this situation because students are usually not aware of some of the things that affect how long a person lives. Students generally love using their imagination and can sometimes relate to the traits or choices. The game avoids the embarrassment of peer criticism. It allows students to self reflect about their current habits.


Rules Two to four people may play at the same time. Each player is dealt fourteen cards. This will be their hand to look at. The remaining cards will be placed in a stack face down. The top card is turned over and placed face up next to the face down deck. This face up will form the discard deck.

The game is played in the following manner:

  1. The player to the right of the dealer plays first. This person may select the top face up card from the discard deck or the top one from the face down deck. This player must discard a card before the next player to the right's turn.

  2. The object of the game is to get two different types of cards for each of the seven suits. When this occurs the player calls rummy. A player cannot call rummy if the cards are duplicates or make contridictory statements within the suit. For example "A nondrinker card and a heavy drinker card"

  3. Each player starts arbitarily with 70 years. Score is computed once someone rummies. When rummy occurs, the person getting rummy receives 15 extra years of life. Each player totals their plus and minus years and adjusts their life span. Play may only be one round dealt(highest score wins), or can be accumulative over several hands. First one to 120 years(current actual record) is the winner, or when someone runs out of years the highest person wins.

  4. To play at a higher level. Students may contest any contradictory cards players may have even across different suits. An example would be overweight and exercises heavily, highly improbable!

    Students can also be given the assignment of describing what kind of person they end up as after one round of play.


Card Design

Each card will have the same top side as shown above. The other side will have a color coded suit with the plus or minus value in the uper left and bottom right part of the card.


Deck Design The desk has a total of 108 cards. There are seven different suits. Not all suits are created equal (Same as life). Each suit will be color coded and symbolized differently.


Residence & Birth (12 Cards)


Family Tree & Heredity (12 Cards)

Traits & Diet (18 cards)


Socio-economic traits (18 cards)

Transportation & Exercise (12 cards)


Medical Reports (18 cards)


Smoking, alcohol, and sleep (18 cards)



Design Process I started by adapting a dice game located in one of the old curriculum guides. The suits were broken down into different rolls of the dice. I have played this game as a class activity and students have always seemed to enjoyed it. Some of the kids at this level have begun to form ideas and life styles that will have effects on their life span, both positive and negative. These students are soon to become young adults with habits they have developed as teenagers. Many think good health will always be there for them and don't prepare themselves for a healthy life. This game points out some of the morales we as teachers try to impart upon them to have a "good life".


References The guide sites a reference source from "Changing Health Behavior", By David Sleet, Ph.D..


Last updated by Mark Simpson on September 28, 1995.

Return to the Card Game Table of Contents.

Educational Technology 670, Fall 1995.