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SBIR Phase II: Martha Madison's Marvelous Machines

Award Information

National Science Foundation
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2012 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Second Avenue Software
130 Office Park Way Pittsford, NY 14534
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Woman-Owned: Yes
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2012
Title: SBIR Phase II: Martha Madison's Marvelous Machines
Agency: NSF
Contract: 1230334
Award Amount: $500,000.00


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project proposes the development, testing and commercialization of a collaborative educational game aimed at middle-school physical science students that will improve educational outcomes and increase interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields across a broad spectrum of students. Martha Madison's Marvelous Machines, a serious game based on pedagogical best practices, correlated to curricular standards and supported by lesson plans, challenges students to work as a team to solve progressively harder physical science problems. Sophisticated scaffolding guides learners and helps them achieve full potential by encouraging exploration yet minimizing frustration without giving the answer away. By tracking play mechanics, the game will test for student engagement, enhancement of scientific inquiry skills and knowledge of physical science principles. The game will cover a full year of physical science curriculum. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project addresses a need to ignite interest in STEM study and careers at a critical time in students' education. There is a current lack of research-based, efficacy proven innovative digital STEM teaching materials. Research shows that middle school is a pivotal time for encouraging students to pursue math and science related fields. If interest and engagement in science are not maintained through middle and high school, successful pursuit of STEM fields drops significantly. Math and science assessment test results show that U.S. students consistently perform lower than international counterparts. In addition, women are significantly underrepresented in STEM careers, filling only 24% of STEM jobs while they hold 48% of all jobs in the U.S. Educational games provide a goal-driven, social framework for thinking about relevant topics and practicing skills. Through play and experimentation, games can provoke curiosity, enthusiasm and creativity about content. While games' merits for increasing engagement are clear, their role in improving educational content is even more important. As a scalable solution to a persistent problem, Martha Madison's Marvelous Machines has the potential to significantly impact U.S. learning and achievement in science.

Principal Investigator:

Victoria A. VanVoorhis

Business Contact:

Victoria A. VanVoorhis
Small Business Information at Submission:

Second Avenue
190 Office Park Way Pittsford, NY 14534-3626

EIN/Tax ID: 204643658
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: Yes
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No