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Gone Fishing for Health Information

By Kate Saylor
Outreach Librarian
University of Michigan
Taubman Health Sciences Library

On June 23rd, 2010, two members of the Taubman Health Sciences Library ( had the pleasure of attending Packard Health’s 2010 Youth Health Fair and Be Well Block Party. Colorful fish

Located in Washtenaw County, Packard Health ( is the only non-profit, private medical practice. Their mission is based on the belief that “everyone deserves friendly, first-rate, continuous health care, regardless of their economic, cultural, or social conditions, and no matter what their insurance status may be.”Packard Health has hosted this youth-focused health fair for over 30 years. As fair attendees ventured inside the clinic, volunteer health care workers provided free camp and sports physicals, immunizations, dental screenings and bike helmets for kids. Outside, health vendor tables were mixed in with fun, carnival-type activities like music, snacks and games. This year’s fair was sponsored by Thomson Reuters.

Normally our offers to provide health information at fairs are accepted without hesitation, but the director of Packard Health challenged us to develop a fun and entertaining way to interact with kids to provide health information. Not a group to back down from a challenge, we pulled together and designed a fishing game for kids based on the 2009 MLA theme Fishing for High Quality Health Information?

fishing poleWe worked with one of our amazingly talented School of Information students to design brightly colored fish. We printed them on heavy card stock, laminated them and attached metal washers to the back side of each fish. To construct the fishing poles, we cut down two dowel rods, painted them silver, tied a section of twine to the end and attached a magnetic lure to the other end of the twine. We used an old copy paper box as our fishing pond, decorating it with blue construction paper and illustrated seaweed–also designed by our student). As a side-note, we had access to electricity, wireless internet and were able to use our laptop for part of the game.

To play the game, each child had the opportunity to “go fishing” with a magnetic lure to catch a colorful cartoon fish. Each fish matched up with a corresponding game card. These cards were divided into two age categories; 6 years old and up, 5 years old and under. The game cards listed a variety of activities such as:

  • Search for “broken bone” in KidsHealth: What’s another word for a broken bone?
  • In ToxMystery, “Walk to the bathroom and find four dangerous chemicals.”
  • Play the Match Game,  “Find three healthy matches.”

colorful cardsThe Match Game was another mini-game we created specifically for the younger group. After the kids successfully completed their tasks, they were allowed to pick from a large bowl of prizes like stickers and animal finger puppets.

At the end of the five-hour fair, we had over 200 kids play our fishing game and spoke to many of the parents about MedlinePlus, Household Products Database and NIH Senior Health. This was a great fair, and we look forward to being able to use our fishing game at future health events to engage and teach kids about finding online health information. More event photos can be viewed here:

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