Contraceptive Simulation at the Mid-Year Workshop

Categories:  Danielle Basore, Lessons and Activities, News and Events

DSC_0257Yesterday was the 3Helix Mid-Year Workshop, where each fellow presented to a group of teachers and fellows a current or potential classroom lesson.  I chose to present an in progress simulation that I have been working on involving contraception methods.  The main focus of my research at RPI is contraception, and I have been looking for ways to work it into my 3Helix lessons.

The New York Times recently published an article detailing the effectiveness of many birth control methods over the course of 10 years.  The two greatest things about this article are that 1: it is interactive in that the data can be shown for 10 years, 9 years, 8 years, etc by sliding along the axis, and 2: it differentiates between “perfect” and “typical” use of each method.  I think this is especially important, because no one uses their chosen birth control method absolutely perfectly every single time they have sex.
(http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/09/14/sunday-review/unplanned-pregnancies.html?_r=0)

Right now in my simulation, it is possible for a user to choose a method of birth control (condom, hormonal pill, withdrawal, rhythm, or unprotected) for a single sexual encounter, and spin a wheel to see if they are (un)lucky enough to land on the chance of becoming pregnant.  To get the numbers used in the generating the wheels, I had to back calculate some, since most effectiveness statistics of contraceptive methods are reported over the course of a year.  For this, I used the statistics that can be found on the CDC’s website. It was surprising to me, and to most of the people at the workshop, how low the chance of pregnancy occurring is per individual sexual encounter.  Even unprotected sex only has a 3% chance of resulting in a pregnancy, per incidence.  Most of the feedback I received concerned making sure that the students do not take that low chance per occurrence as license to have all the unprotected sex.  I am looking forward to adding to this simulation to make it more usable in the classroom.  Features I want to add include stacking of birth control methods, the compounding of the chance of pregnancy over time, STD risk, and informational “pop ups” that provide facts about contraceptive methods, STDs, teen pregnancy, etc.

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