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SBIR Phase I: Race To Mars: Examining How to Interest and Engage Females in STEM through an Exploratory Examination of Serious Game Design Variables

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1047122
Agency Tracking Number: 1047122
Amount: $150,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: EA
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2010
Award Year: 2011
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2011-01-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2012-06-30
Small Business Information
Suite 206 501 N. Morton St.
Bloomington, IN 47404-3743
United States
DUNS: 090171328
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Jamie Kirkley
 (812) 856-4202
Business Contact
 Jamie Kirkley
Title: PhD
Phone: (812) 856-4202
Research Institution

This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I strives to increase female and minority student interest in engineering and related fields. Reaching underrepresented populations in STEM is essential for developing the domestic workforce needed for 21st century engineering and STEM exploration and production. WisdomTools and Project Lead The Way (PLTW) propose to design, develop and test Race to Mars, a problem-based serious game to interest and engage high school females in aerospace engineering and STEM challenges related to flight and space. Deliverables include a framework of game design principles to attract underrepresented groups, a serious game module, and teacher and student guides. Our hypothesis is that by identifying new ways to design, develop, and implement engineering curriculum using serious games with game elements that engage underrepresented groups, we can increase interest, motivation, and learning outcomes in engineering for high school students (particularly for females and minority females.) Understanding if and how video games can support interest and motivation in STEM and if and how video games can support learning challenging engineering concepts will be important discoveries that can inform and advance our nation?s STEM goals. Usability and feasibility of Race to Mars will be tested with diverse high school students using pre-posttests, surveys, interviews, observations, and user data tracking. Data will be analyzed to assess impact on populations of interest. The broader/commercial impact of this project will be the potential of this project lies in the use of serious games as an innovative way to build and retain student interest in STEM fields, both in the classroom and at home. Race to Mars uses compelling video game design principles that are designed to keep young people engaged and playing for hours and combines it with extensive research in gender and games, embedded scaffolds, collaborative learning, and visualization and simulation capabilities needed to support students in developing an interest in and learning complex engineering concepts. To help broaden and diversify the domestic pool of engineers, Race to Mars will be designed to attract females, including females of color, to engineering fields. Race to Mars will be distributed within PTLW?s network of 3500 schools in all 50 states as well as marketed to schools interested in supplementing other courses (science, career and technical education) with authentic learning challenges, and to families interested in exposing their children to the challenges and opportunities of the engineering world. Race to Mars will leverage our existing STEM serious games work with other national and regional partners such as NASA?s Office of Education and the Indiana Department of Education.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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