Mr. Vetro: A Collective Simulation Framework for Health Science Education

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2R44RR022008-02
Agency Tracking Number: RR022008
Amount: $374,500.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2007
Solicitation Year: 2007
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
DUNS: 113731017
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: Y
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Y
Principal Investigator
 (303) 530-1773
Business Contact
Phone: (303) 530-1773
Research Institution
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Science apathy is growing at the K-12 education level, and represents an alarming development with potentially devastating consequences at individual, societal and economic levels. Surprisingly, this student apathy is increasing while the general public reads record numbers of popular science books and watches increasing amounts of science TV programming. In spite of the $70 billion investment in technology during the 1990s, K-12 science education fails to excite students. Technology has become prevalent in science education without fundamentally improving test scores or student attitudes. We claim the core of the problem is how technology is being used. Our main objective is to deal with the science apathy challenge by creating engaging discovery-oriented science learning modules uniquely combining social learning pedagogies with distributed simulation technology. This combination is part of a new framework that we call Collective Simulations. This framework will create extraordinary immersive, yet cost effective, learning experiences based on wirelessly connected handheld computers. For instance, in a K-12 course covering physiology, each group of students controls physiological variables of a single system/organ on their handheld computer, while a central simulation gathers all the data and projects them. Collective Simulations allow students to learn about the intricacies of interdependent complex systems by essentially becoming organs and engaging in a simulation-aided discourse with other students and teachers. In the long term, Collective Simulations would include other health education topics such as infectious diseases, nutrition, and physical education. Additionally, these simulations could also be used in medical school training, patient education, and museums. Our specific Phase II aims include working with content experts, educational researchers and practitioners, and assessment experts to: 1) scale up content by incorporating more human systems and creating complete, ready-to-use learning activities that cover a semester-length course; 2) increase system usability by simplifying the use of this technology by a) using networking technology that can automatically configure itself without the need for technical experts, and b) incorporating Phase I user-interface and content feedback provided by medical experts, students and teachers; 3) scale up assessment by raising the number of schools involved, widening the school profiles through the inclusion of inner city schools, and tapping into outreach programs such as the University of Colorado Science Discovery program with access to 30,000 students; 4) disseminate broadly by working with publishers to align simulation content with existing and proposed human physiology textbooks; and 5) broaden participation by making the technology more affordable for economically disadvantaged schools. The research proposed for Phase II is highly relevant to general public health. Health science apathy, increasing at a societal level, is often rooted in K-12 science education failing to be of interest or relevance to everyday life. Collective Simulations, especially when exploring compelling content (e.g. connecting physiology with nutrition, physical education and substance abuse), are likely to engage students more and to turn them into better-informed, and consequently healthier citizens.

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

Agency Micro-sites

SBA logo
Department of Agriculture logo
Department of Commerce logo
Department of Defense logo
Department of Education logo
Department of Energy logo
Department of Health and Human Services logo
Department of Homeland Security logo
Department of Transportation logo
Environmental Protection Agency logo
National Aeronautics and Space Administration logo
National Science Foundation logo
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government