Students invited to create a card game inspired by the Human Cell Atlas

How to build a Human: Design a card game challenge

School students aged 11-14 across the UK are invited to develop an idea for a brand new card game, inspired by research into the human body. The winning idea will be developed into a real game which will be sent to all participating schools across the UK.

The free virtual challenge for schools, ‘How To Build A Human: Design a Card Game Challenge’ has been launched by Little Inventors, in association with the One Cell at a Time Public Engagement project for the global Human Cell Atlas research initiative. Funded by Wellcome, One Cell at a Time is led by the Wellcome Sanger Institute, with collaborations across Cambridge, London, Newcastle and Oxford.

Students will design a card game inspired by Human Cell Atlas research into human cells and tissues. Working with their teachers, Key Stage 3 students (aged 11-14) will first learn about the exciting work of the Human Cell Atlas researchers alongside their biology curriculum. The students will then stretch their imaginations to invent a card game inspired by cells and tissue. Schools need to submit their entries by Thursday 1 April 2021.

“This is a great opportunity for teachers and students, and can be done remotely or in the classroom. We want students to take inspiration from the Human Cell Atlas project, and combine this with what they’ve already learned in science to create a fun and educational game.”

Dominic Wilcox, founder of Little Inventors

The students who submit the winning concept for the card game will get to work with expert game designer Richard Heayes, to develop their game into a real product. This game will be sent to every school that takes part in the challenge.

“The best games are created in teams. For a card game you need creative minds, and people who are good at maths to work out how you actually win the game. Of course we need young scientists too, because the game is all about the human body and we need people who are good at figuring out how things work.”

Richard Heayes, game designer

The Human Cell Atlas research initiative is mapping every cell type in the human body. This will transform our understanding of biology and disease, and could revolutionise the way illnesses are diagnosed and treated.

“As one of the researchers working on the Human Cell Atlas, I’m especially interested in finding out how the different cell types fit together and how they talk to each other to make the tissue work properly. It would be wonderful to see a card game about how the cells fit next to each other, or work together to do the jobs they need to do. I’m really looking forward to playing the final card game when it is produced.”

Dr Anna Wilbrey-Clark, Senior Staff Scientist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

More information

Contact details:

For more information contact Laura Rothwell,, 0044 191 691 1302


One Cell at a Time is funded by Wellcome, grant number 218597/Z/19/Z.

Selected websites

  • How To Build A Human Card Game Challenge

    The resources for ‘How To Build A Human’ have been created especially for the Key Stage 3 UK science curriculum and can be used online or in the classroom.

    • For 11-14 years, Key Stage 3 science
    • Download all the free resources from
    • Watch the lessons from inventors, scientists, researchers and a game designer to learn more
    • Get into teams and get creative – complete all the challenge sheets (download from the website) with your idea
    • Upload the challenge sheets to the website to submit your idea before 1 April

    Schools need to submit their entries by Thursday 1 April 2021. More than 300 schools have already started their challenge, and this is open to everyone in Key Stage 3 education in the UK.

    The best idea will be chosen as the winner and made into card game which will be sent to every school who participated in the challenge.

    Find out more:

  • The Human Cell Atlas (HCA) 

    The Human Cell Atlas (HCA) is an international collaborative consortium which is creating comprehensive reference maps of all human cells—the fundamental units of life—as a basis for understanding human health and for diagnosing, monitoring, and treating disease. The HCA will impact every aspect of biology and medicine, propelling translational discoveries and applications and ultimately leading to a new era of precision medicine.

    The HCA was co-founded in 2016 by Dr Sarah Teichmann at the Wellcome Sanger Institute (UK) and Dr Aviv Regev, then at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (USA). A truly global initiative, there are now more than 2,000 HCA members, from 75 countries around the world.

  • Little Inventors 

    Little Inventors founded by Dominic Wilcox is a creative education organisation that inspires imagination by taking children’s amazing ideas seriously. They:

    • create free resources for organisations, teachers and parents to encourage children to think up and draw great invention ideas.
    • challenge skilled experts and makers to work with children to turn their ideas into reality, from the practical to the fantastical, no limits.
    • showcase children’s inventions online and in books and exhibitions to inspire tomorrow’s inventors, scientists, makers and problem-solvers to believe in their ability to make a difference.

  • The Wellcome Sanger Institute

    The Wellcome Sanger Institute is a world leading genomics research centre. We undertake large-scale research that forms the foundations of knowledge in biology and medicine. We are open and collaborative; our data, results, tools and technologies are shared across the globe to advance science. Our ambition is vast – we take on projects that are not possible anywhere else. We use the power of genome sequencing to understand and harness the information in DNA. Funded by Wellcome, we have the freedom and support to push the boundaries of genomics. Our findings are used to improve health and to understand life on Earth. Find out more at or follow us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and on our Blog.

  • About Wellcome

    Wellcome exists to improve health by helping great ideas to thrive. We support researchers, we take on big health challenges, we campaign for better science, and we help everyone get involved with science and health research. We are a politically and financially independent foundation.