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

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
NSF 06-598
Small Business Information
Information in Place, Inc.
Suite 206, 501 N. Morton St., Bloomington, IN, 47404
Hubzone Owned:
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator
 Sonny Kirkley
 (812) 325-9100
Business Contact
 Sonny Kirkley
Title: PhD
Phone: (812) 325-9100
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II research project will support middle school students in learning STEM concepts and problem solving through the use of a problem-based curriculum and video game with embedded scaffolds (e.g., guidance, tools, resources). The project will focus on the design, development, and testing of the usability, feasibility, and implementation of the Virtual Astronaut Learning Platform (VALP), an immersive, problem-based video game approach to improving STEM learning outcomes. The three-part model will combine the latest in learning sciences research and design with the best in commercial game play, and includes a new serious game-learning methodology - Mission Based Learning; a new game genre, First Person Explorer; and an approach - STEaM, which integrates creativity into STEM activities. The research will include iterative design and rapid prototype testing in school settings during Year 1 and a full-scale quasi-experimental design field test in Year 2. Additionally, the research will examine learning gains related to STEM concepts and problem solving approaches, changes in attitudes towards STEM-related careers, and changes in student self-efficacy related to science inquiry and technology; and will help to advance knowledge related to effective educational game design and implementation. The Virtual Astronaut Learning Platform will result in a commercial quality 3D game environment that supports single player and collaborative multi-player learning activities. VALP is a collection of game-based STEM learning environments that will be sold as a supplement to existing curriculum and textbooks, thus enhancing the availability of engaging and effective STEM learning activities for students. VALP learning activities are being mapped to national STEM standards and will include a teacher's guide to ensure appropriate integration into the larger STEM curriculum. Set 50 years in the future and based on realistic future science and technology capabilities, VALP will enable students to see how space will be explored in their lifetime, and how STEM content provides them with the knowledge and tools they need to solve real problems in space. Findings from the design process as well as from the learning outcomes research will add to the growing body of research related to effective embedded scaffolding techniques, problem-based learning approaches, and STEM learning and game-based learning approaches for diverse populations.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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