VoxelDiscovery 5-8: Engaging the Middle Grades in Visualization of the Nervous System proposes to empower middle school students to use modern neuroimaging research to explore questions relevant to young adolescents? lives and health, such as: (1) Are all people wired the same way?;(2) How is my brain changing as I grow up and why do I think the way I do?;(3) Is exercise good for my brain too?;and (4) Are alcohol and other drugs really that bad for my brain? To accomplish this goal, four prototype VoxelDiscovery 5-8 e- laboratories (e-labs) and corresponding tablet applications (apps) will be developed for middle school science education. The paired e-labs and apps will help students develop scientific thinking skills that can be used to make healthy choices in their lives. Six milestones will be completed during the two-year Phase I project by a team of instructional materials developers, graphic designers, classroom teachers, students, programmers, neuroscience advisors, pedagogical experts, and an independent evaluator: 1. Develop four prototype VoxelDiscovery 5-8 e-labs and corresponding tablet apps; 2. Develop online professional development workshops that support implementation of the VoxelDiscovery 5-8 e-labs and apps; 3. Integrate evaluation into every aspect of the development process; 4. Document the project's impact on students and teachers, and use that information to plan for improvements in the Phase II e-labs and apps; 5. Develop a commercialization plan for the Phase II project that will result in licensing and distribution of the project's products by Carolna Biological Supply;and 6. Disseminate project results at professional conferences, in practitioner publications, and via appropriate social networking resources. VoxelDiscovery 5-8's e-labs will be developed in the Moodle e-learning management system and offered online to schools and home schoolers. To add in-depth exploration of neuroimaging data and research to the e- labs, Science Approach will create corresponding apps for tablet devices such as the Apple iPad. The e-lab/ app sets will be sold via a licensing arrangement with Carolina Biological Supply. To foster widespread implementation of the e-labs and apps, Webinars will be used to help educators implement VoxelDiscovery 5-8 for science education and take advantage of its associated apps and social engagement, collaboration, and data sharing technologies. An independent evaluation will provide formative feedback to aid development of the e-labs and apps, particularly with regard to engagement, grade appropriateness of the content, and pedagogical quality. The evaluation will also provide summative conclusions about the impact of the prototypes on students.
The proposed VoxelDiscovery 5-8 project will create and evaluate e-learning and tablet computer-based neuroscience education materials for grades 5-8. The project proposes to empower middle school students to use modern neuroimaging research to evaluate the impacts of personal choices on their lives. Because the project's products are designed for middle school life science education, they will promote development of a scientifically literate public that can carry forward the science and technology that has made the United States a leader in the field of biomedicine and has provided its citizens with a high standard of living.