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Planning the Size of Your Family

It's All in the Cards


A professor at the School of Public Health has developed an educational game designed to help young adolescents understand reproduction and population control.

The game, entitled "Planafam," enables students to construct hypothetical families by selecting the number of offspring desired, the type of contraception to be used, and the age of childbearing. It forces the player to consider rationally the long term consequences of population problems, and to make responsible decisions concerning child-bearing.

The original version of the game, developed by Harold A. Thomas, McKay Professor of Civil and Sanitary Engineering, stresses awareness of the cultural aspects of population control. The players adopt the values concerning reproduction of men and women in underdeveloped countries, with high infant mortality rates and little access to contraceptives.

"Planafam II," a modification of the initial game, focuses more realistically on American values concerning reproduction.

For Non-Math People

The game was originally developed to help non-mathematical graduate students in biology grasp more theoretical aspects of probability and population dynamics.

Dr. Katherine Finseth '63, a research assistant of Thomas's, reconstructed the game for high school and college students to educate them in population control and aid them in personal awareness of reproduction.

Finseth is currently testing the game on students in local schools, and said the personal and theoretical aspects of reproduction can be connected through the role-playing that "Planafam" stresses.

"Planafam," which consists of ordinary playing cards, dominoes and a game board, will be distributed to schools through clearing houses that deal with social science material.

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