“Interactive Game to Support Children’s Learning About Tobacco and the Human Body”

This phase I SBIR project will develop an innovative STEM game that combines education about parts of the human body while also teaching lessons about the bad effects on the body of smoking tobacco. The target audience is 5th or 6th grade students. This lines up with health curriculum used in most states. This combined biology and smoking cessation education has been successfully done for over two decades with a video called “Dusty the Dragon and Dr. Margie Hogan Talk About Tobacco.” The animated and live action video was developed in the 1980’s with a NIH SBIR by Dan Klassen PhD, who is on this project team. This has been a highly successful SBIR commercialization. An estimated 20,000 copies of the video have been sold to schools over the last two decades. Millions of children have received their first education about the adverse effects of smoking on different parts of the body from watching this video. Dr. Klassen is a key team member on this new proposed SBIR and will be leading the development of a serious game using the Dusty the Dragon character. Dusty the Dragon is a recognized brand in smoking cessation education. Using the character in a new game format will allow quick acceptance by educators purchasing new products for 5th and 6th grade health education. Marketing and distribution of the new game is already in place with ETR associates. This will ensure a very rapid introduction into the education marketplace. The entertaining aspects of the game will keep the attention of the student much longer than a video would. The game form of Dusty the Dragon will allow a much deeper exploration of the organs of the human body and more opportunity to deliver a message about the adverse effects of smoking.


A powerful team has been assembled to perform on this project. The PI, Tom Plocher, is a researcher with three decades of experience conducting human factors research. Dr. Klassen is an experienced educational software developer who has created over 60 educational software products. Consulting with Mr. Plocher and Dr. Klassen will be Dr. Carole A. Bagley, PhD. She will be organizing the evaluation with the schools to test the feasibility of the phase I version of your game. She will also consult on the presenting educational content during the phase I game development. Dr. Bagley has a PhD in Educational Psychology with specialization in Computer Science. The second consultant is Marjorie J. Hogan MD. Dr. Hogan is the pediatrician who appeared on the original “Dusty the Dragon and Dr. Margie Hogan Talk About Tobacco” video. Dr. Hogan will consult on the STEM biology content of the game. The third consultant is Dr. Christi Patten who is the director of Mayo Clinic’s Behavioral Health Research Program. Dr. Patten will be consulting on the smoking cessation content for the game. She has substantial experience in developing and evaluating novel, theory-based behavioral tobacco cessation interventions in randomized clinical trials including those targeting adolescents and women.

Clip From Original “Dusty The Dragon” Educational Video