SBIR Phase I: Developing a Commercial Video Game for Tweens to Support Complex Systems Thinking

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Information in Place, Inc.
Suite 206, 501 N. Morton St., bloomington, IN, 47404
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Sonny Kirkley
(812) 325-9100
Business Contact:
Sonny Kirkley
(812) 325-9100
Research Institution:
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will develop an innovative, cutting-edge, commercial video game, that inspires and entices middle school children to engage in complex systems-based problems to learn science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by using a stealth-based learning approach. The project will combine the best in commercial game play (e.g., novel storytelling/game play) with the latest in learning sciences research and design (e.g., stealth learning, embedded scaffolds) to develop a game that students will want to play and that are tied to national academic standards. The tasks for this are: 1) a complete game design treatment with narrative and interaction outlines based on complex STEM problems; 2) four prototype game scenarios based on complex, STEM-related issues/problems; 3) a matrix linking game play with STEM curriculum as well as national standards. In Phase II, the video game will be fully prototyped, as well as a curriculum and teachers guide. The project will employ an experimental design to examine the impact of the video game on: 1) learning gains of STEM-based concepts and problem solving; 2) gains in efficacy with using math and science to solve problems; and 3) use of embedded scaffolds to support learning. The playing of innovative video games that touch our childrens imagination may act as a catalyst for a much needed renaissance in mathematics and science. Most video games focus on fun, and educational games focus on learning combining the two so that neither fun nor learning are sacrificed has not been done well by a commercial game. By developing this approach, we will create a new model of game design that moves past first person shooters to a new genre of first person explorers using stealth learning that forward our childrens capabilities without sacrificing the fun and engagement. While one game alone will not solve all of the problems with STEM education, this research will contribute to our understanding of how to design video games to support stealth learning. The proposed innovation supports the use of using innovative technologies for enhancing student learning, problem solving, and participation in STEM topics. This game will: 1) meet the need of improving students the understanding and learning of scientific and technical principles as well as increase problem-solving capability; 2) facilitate interactive learning and collaborative learning; 3) broaden access to high-quality science and technology education; and 4) promote access for those with disabilities.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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