SBIR Phase II: Virtual Learning Environment for University Physics

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 0848966
Agency Tracking Number: 0711693
Amount: $510,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2009
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: IT
Solicitation Number: NSF 06-598
Small Business Information
9714 Oakhaven Ct., INDIANAPOLIS, IN, 46256
DUNS: 839819179
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Hatem Wasfy
 (217) 417-3677
Business Contact
 Hatem Wasfy
Title: MS
Phone: (217) 417-3677
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project proposes the development of a web-based collaborative Virtual Learning Environment for teaching freshman university physics, called the Virtual Physics Lab (VPL). The VPL will deliver an individualized self-paced learning experience using high-end multimedia lectures, and interactive virtual-reality simulations. The multimedia lectures are delivered using a synchronized multimodal combination of both highlighted text and speech that is delivered by near-photorealistic intelligent animated virtual instructors. The multimedia lectures include interactive Flash animations, movies, and 2D/3D animated illustrations. The VPL's interactive simulations are delivered in a video-game-like 3D virtual environment using physics-based models to simulate physics concepts such as pendulums, impact, buoyancy, magnetism etc. The VPL is highly interactive and uses pre-topic, in-topic, and post-topic questions to keep students engaged and to assess whether or not students need further training in any given subject. The VPL also includes collaborative/competitive mini 3D computer games that use relevant physics principles to increase the students' interest about the material being taught, and to add entertainment and competitive dimensions to the learning experience. The VPL's interactivity and the visually stimulating instruction will result in faster assimilation, deeper understanding, and higher memory retention by the students than traditional text-book/classroom learning. The VPL has the potential to radically change the way physics is taught. Due to the current exponential rate of increase in human scientific and technical knowledge, there is a need for students to assimilate more knowledge at a faster rate. Current classroom and text-book instruction delivery methods cannot satisfy this need due to a variety of reasons, including, delivery of the lecture in non-engaging and minimally interactive way, use of antiquated static graphical illustrations, variability of teacher skill, lack of one-on-one teacher attention, and variability of student learning styles and speeds. The VPL will help overcome those limitations. Particularly, it will enhance the quality, accessibility, and speed of learning. It will enhance the student experimentation, creativity and problem-solving capability. Freshman university physics was chosen because it is one of the essential foundations for training high-caliber engineers and scientists who will ensure the continued leadership of the US in developing new technologies and in conducting cutting-edge scientific research. The US market for the proposed learning tool is estimated at 500,000 licenses per year. A larger market exists worldwide in English language speaking countries, and for future versions of the VPL that will be translated into other languages.

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

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