More Than the Birds and the Bees
You’re back in middle school...
You walk in to class as your teacher is scrawling the words “sex ed” across the board. On your desk lies a pamphlet that says “Pregnancy and STDs; The Consequences of Your Actions.”
Students are not learning a proper sex education, and are turning to dangerous resources, like porn, to learn.
We can create a learning model outside of a standard school taught curriculum.
To introduce a system that delivers sex education in an individualized manner based on the child's needs.
The current sex education model isn't giving students the necessary time nor content to properly learn.
Kids are viewing dangerous resources as education.
We can’t just pretend that kids aren’t going to be curious about sex and their bodies, it’s only natural. Most kids have been exposed to sexual content by age 11 through mediums like movies, tv shows, social media, and porn. Unfortunately, kids are viewing this as education over what they’re taught in school.
of teenagers claim that they learn their sex education from the internet and porn
of teenagers claim that they learn their sex education from their friends
This creates a dangerous cycle of misinformation.
We expect school taught education to break this cycle. But what exactly do we take away from our sex education courses? As someone who has gone through Virginia’s sex education curriculum first hand, I can confidently say: not a whole lot. From elementary-high school, students learn an average of 13.5 hours of sex ed total. That’s barely 2 hours of sex education a year.
Schools don't budget enough time for sex education.
So students aren't gaining foundational knowledge on sex and health topics.
So... what are students being taught? The short answer: very unregulated material. Let's break down the curriculum of the 50 US states.
Out of the 50 states:
28 require a sex ed curriculum
22 require medically accurate info*
*but theres no standard on what that means
9 require consent to be taught
0 teach comprehensive sex ed*
*sex education including human rights. Covers topics from puberty and STDs through identity and self-advocation.
Kids are attempting to learn in an incomplete and poorly distributed education model. This model has been set forth by the government, and is hardly reinforced. With no standardized testing or universal lesson plan requirements, there's really no way ro regulate what information is being taught, if at all.
Students are seeking information...
...but the lack of prior knowledge due to poor school education prevents them from differentiating between helpful and harmful resources.
We can introduce a program that models its teaching structure around the student's specific content and time needs.
Sex education through schools could be useful if it was given more emphasis and taught in a comprehensive manner. However, sex education is seen as a taboo topic in the united states, thus it’s curriculum has become a divisive political matter.
On top of that, sex education has such a wide range of information. Sites with resources are available, but they’re overwhelming for individuals looking for help.
We can redesign the educational model.
We need to figure out a better way to deliver sex education in a way that puts the student first.
We can create a model of building and reinforcing information based on user interaction. This creates a way to deliver information to the student in a personalized manner, providing information only when they need it in their lives, and catering the subject to the student and they grow and develop.
This allows the information to be delivered in a way that is:
Every user will have a different educational experience from their peers, but will be learning the same amount of information just as effectively.
HUM: An AI driven program that delivers comprehensive sex education in interactive ways on a personalized timeline.
Introducing HUM, a program that learns and grows with the student. Utilizing artificial intelligence and the analysis of user data, HUM is able to adapt to student's individualized needs.
HUM is based follows a model of building up and reinforcing information utilizing AI technology. As the program picks up patterns in the student's interactions, it is then able to alter what is presented. Simply put, it's reinforcing a "choose your own adventure" interaction. Let's go over an example of what that journey looks like behind the scenes.
Let's use the example of the education around menstruation.
Let each colored bar represent a topic within the learning curriculum.
Students are introduced to "foundational topics" early on, in this case, puberty. As the child continues their education and tracks their development, HUM can then introduce a new topic, periods, before or when the student needs to learn it.
As the student continues to interact with the app, the information being taught is curated to fit the user's needs, shown via the color change in our example.
Finally, topics are reintroduced based on the user's needs in order to support future subjects, as well as encourage the retention of information.
This results in different students having different learning experiences from one another, while still learning the same level of information in an effective manner.
To put it simply, we're looking at different patterns of teaching the same information.
1. Check-In feature to track user well being, life updates, and needs.
2. Learning modules covering comprehensive sex education.
3. Journals to track progress and encourage personal goal setting.
4. Chat Bot for quick ask-and-reply interactions.
Daily check ins allow for HUM to collect user data in a consistent way to further personalize the student's experience.
Check ins also allow for the student to be receiving any additional information or resources that they may need outside of their learning experience.
Multiple options allows for the user to further identify their emotion.
User's are able to input unrestricted responses.
Users receive personalized resources based on their input.
Older Student Example
Younger Student Example
Although similar subjects are taught, the way that the information is presented varies based on the users need.
Encourage confidence in decision making.
Real life, relatable situations to enforce information.
Interactive screens promote information retention. The student is allowed to explore different options that excite them the most.
Puts the user in control of their pace.
Presents the user with different options under the same subject.
Interaction promotes positive "gaming" associations.
Videos allow for more in depth descriptions or real-life demonstrations of a topic to normalize the human body.
Mixed media modernizes the information.
Visuals reinforce information retention.
"Real" people instead of graphics encourages normalcy of topics.
Students are able to view and track their past check ins and their learning progress. Students are also able to set goals and milestones for themselves.
Promotes independence and self-accountability.
Encourages consistent use.
Students can utilize a direct ask-and-response chat in order to receive quick information. The information is pulled from credible resources and explained to the student in a conversational way catered to them.
Encourages casual questioning.
Provides a safe space for the user.
Provides information in a digestible manner.
We have the opportunity to bring in another significant user into the equation: the parent. We can utilize a parallel platform to educate the parent on how to best support their child during this developmental time in their lives.
The main goal would be to empower the student and keep them in control of their support system.
As HUM continues to develop and grow its platform, there is a possibility for the program to be utilized for other types of education. Children with special needs can benefit from HUM because the program adapts to the student's personality and learning styles. HUM encourages different learning styles, thus empowering users with special needs to pursue the learning style that works best for them, and not have to attempt to adapt to what's more convenient for others.
Eventually, HUM could expand into having its own ecosystem with various users benefiting and interacting.
This project was a beast. Sex education is such a huge umbrella term that encompasses so many different topics. I struggled to ensure that I was covering as much as I could, without diluting the impact. I really had to sit back and learn to prioritize my concepts.
As an independent project, I also had to wear a lot of hats. This was both difficult and empowering; I had to balance the entire process of the project, pushing skills I don't get to use often, but that also allowed me to create a more intertwined or circular process, as opposed to a linear start-to-finish.