By introducing children to the world of cells, DNA and genetic mutations, Genome Heroes aims to foster the next generation of scientific thinkers and genomic experts.
Qatar Foundation has launched a unique mobile game application called ‘Genome Heroes’. The app’s primary goal is to teach young children across the globe about genome science through a fun and interactive platform.
The innovative game was developed by QF’s Qatar Genome Programme with the support of students from Qatar Foundation schools. Now, it is accessible to users worldwide in both English and Arabic via the Apple Store and Google Play.
The application was launched recently at a special event held at QF’s Qatar Academy Doha with participation from over 120 students who have been actively involved in the development process of the Genome Heroes app since its inception.
The importance of genomic science cannot be overstated. Genomics, a branch of biology focusing on the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of genomes, plays a crucial role in understanding diseases and developing personalised treatments.
Dima Darwish, the Head of Genomic Education at the Qatar Genome Programme and the creator of the game, spoke about the educational objectives behind Genome Heroes. “We designed the game to provide children a fun way to learn genomics, introducing them to one concept at a time,” she explained.
“Research and experimental psychology show that gamification is one of the most powerful tools for education nowadays.”
With the help of students from grades 4, 5, and 6 at Qatar Academy Doha, the game underwent extensive testing and piloting.
This feedback from the intended end-users of the game led to many necessary changes and improvements. “We started with Qatar Academy Doha students because of their fundamental role in creating the app,” Darwish elaborated.
Genome Heroes is designed to cater to two age groups: children aged between 6 to 9 years, and those above 9 years of age.
During the launch event, primary students at Qatar Academy Doha engaged in hands-on learning opportunities by exploring the app, extracting DNA from bananas, playing matching games with heredity and genes and giving feedback on their experiences.
Assistant Principal at Qatar Academy Doha, Elizabeth Kennedy, praised the collaborative nature of the project and the unique ecosystem of QF, saying, “Authentic collaboration, like the one between Qatar Academy Doha and the Genome Heroes team, strengthens our educational foundation.”
As part of the Genome Heroes’ ongoing journey, more events will take place across QF schools in the 2023/2024 academic year.