IES/ED SBIR Awardee Wins Industry Award for Innovation

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An awardee of the SBIR Program at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) within the U.S. Department of Education (ED) was recognized at the recent Software & Information Industry Association’s (SIIA) Ed-Tech Business Forum Innovator Incubator competition. Wisconsin-based Filament Games won first place for the “Most Innovative Technology Product” and second place for “Most Likely to Succeed” at the May event in San Francisco. Filament Games competed against 73 other applicants – and 11 finalists – to win the awards.
Filament Games’ product, Game-enhanced Interactive Life Science (GILS) suite, is a set of web-based life science games designed to facilitate deeper conceptual understandings of the scientific inquiry process among middle school students, and especially among learners with disabilities. The project began in 2010 and is scheduled to end in 2013. At present, Filament Games has released three of the five titles it will be developing through this project. In You Make Me Sick (click on title to go to the games), students learn how viruses and bacteria transmit disease by designing pathogens and trying to infect human hosts. In Crazy Plant Shop, students learn about plant genetics by taking on the role of a young botanist who operates a plant shop that specializes in rare and exotic breeds of plants. In Cell Command, students learn about cell anatomy and functions by commanding a “cell ship,” a microscopic vessel heroically dedicated to helping a human body perform critical cellular functions. The final two games of the suite, Reach for the Sun and Body Command (game not yet available), are presently in development. The GILS project is currently being beta-tested in middle schools to gauge the feasibility of implementation in classroom settings. This fall Filament will run a second field study examining teachers’ best practices for implementing the games and assessing the suites’ promise for improving student learning.
While funding for this project does not conclude until March 2013, the first three GILS games already have been played more than 100,000 times through the BrainPop education platform. The “Most Innovative” award is the third major recognition the GILS project has received. In April 2011 the You Make Me Sick game won the “Grand Prize” at the 2011 National STEM Video Game Challenge. In June 2011, GILS won the “Best in Show” award at the Games and Learning Society conference. 
The award to Filament Games marks the second consecutive IES SBIR project to win the “Most Innovative” at the SIIA event, which is held bi-annually. In November, 2011, Massachusetts-based firm Fluidity Software won the award for its FluidMath software product. For more information on the IES SBIR program, and for video demos of more than 20 products supported by this program, click here.
Edward Metz
Edward Metz is the SBIR Program Manager at ED’s Institute of Education Sciences
Please note: IES/ED does not promote or endorse any non-Government or commercial content appearing on the page.
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