SBIR Phase II: Understanding Science Processes Through Modeling and Animation: Efficiently Producing Low-Cost Software Tools for K-12
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
2084 SOUTH STATE STREET, ANN ARBOR, MI, 48104-1063
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project seeks to address a need in science education that is non-linearly becoming a serious problem. In general, educational technology has had a weak track record for positively impacting student understanding in the area of science. Research clearly suggests that students' use of science simulation programs does have a positive impact on their achievement and understanding. There is a dearth of such software, and the simulations that are available are ?heavyweight? - typically computationally, financially, curricularly, and cognitively demanding. The GoKnow AniModeler Software Factory seeks to demonstrate how to build a software factory that can deliver 36, lightweight science simulations for $1 per student per year! During our Phase I SBIR effort, the company will develop the object-oriented architecture underlying the AniModeler simulation engine. Their challenge in Phase II is to build a factory system that exploits that architecture such that the creation of a simulation program ? an AniModeler ? is done by a science educator without any programmer assistance and it outputs, automatically with versions for 5 operating systems. Supporting consumer functionality such as, mobile and lightweight applications are the future of software development. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project addresses the full range of stakeholders: (1) In contrast to activities such as filling out worksheets, in using GoKnow's AniModelers in collaboration with their peers, students will see science as a social activity, sparked by a desire to understand how and why?not as a boring, solitary activity. Students will see science as a fun activity- successfully understanding how and why something works is a good ? fun ? feeling. (2) Teachers will see that lightweight, easy-to-learn-to-use, narrowly focused apps ? just like the apps on their smartphones - are much easier to integrate into their existing curriculum when compared with typical educational software that is expensive and so profusely functional that it takes excessive class time to learn. (3) Educators will see that educational software doesn't necessarily need to cost an arm and a leg, and that Open Source is not the only alternative. (4) Science publishers will see educational software as positively contributing to the value of their print offerings - especially when they make money from the software. (5) And, last but surely not least, AniModelers can demonstrate to software developers that educational software can be a lucrative business!
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