Astro-Engineer: Implementing a Problem-based Serious Games Approach to Interest and Engage Middle School Students in Engineering Design Challenges Related to Colonizing Space

Award Information
National Science Foundation
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
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Small Business Information
WisdomTools Enterprises
Suite 206, 501 N. Morton St., Bloomington, IN, 47404
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Jamie Kirkley
(812) 856-4202
Business Contact:
Jamie Kirkley
(812) 856-4202
Research Institution:
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I research project proposes to design, develop and conduct usability and feasibility testing on Astro-Engineer, a problem-based, commercial quality serious game module with embedded scaffolds to interest and engage middle school (7th and 8th grade) students in engineering design challenges related to colonizing space. The overall Phase I and II components of this SBIR project will be to design, develop and evaluate the full suite of five serious game modules with embedded mini games that serve as learning scaffolds, as well as a Teachers Guide, to interest and engage middle school students in learning engineering problem-solving approaches applied to authentic engineering design challenges, applying science and math to solve these challenges, and increasing student interest in engineering, engineering technology and related STEM topics, courses, and careers. By engaging middle school students in problem-based serious game modules based on authentic engineering challenges that are mapped to academic engineering standards and tied to the Project Lead the Way curriculum, middle school students will demonstrate a significant increase in: 1) learning outcomes related to specific engineering design concepts, tasks and problem solving approaches based on challenges related to colonizing space; 2) learning outcomes related to the ability to apply specific math and science skills to solve these engineering challenges; 3) interest in engineering, engineering technology and related STEM topics, courses and/or careers. While the focus for these gains is on all students, there is a particular emphasis on reaching under-represented populations (women, minorities, and persons with abilities). This project will help improve the knowledge base on how to effectively design serious games for STEM education, and specifically to teach the engineering design process, in such a way as to support student interest and learning, and to attract underrepresented populations in engineering. The project will test the usability and feasibility of Astro-Engineer with two classes of middle school students using a pre-post test, observation, surveys and interviews, and data will be analyzed to assess impact on specific populations of interest.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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