We propose to build a unique motion-controlled computer-gaming framework, a platform for creating educational neuroscience games that engage students through interactive kinesthetic, visual, and auditory components. The framework will consist of 3D bimanual interaction so that young children can intuitively interact with a virtual learning environment as they do with the real world. The framework will also support online collaboration among users even when they are not in the same physical space. The system framework will support our ultimate goals to 1) engage students in neuroscience by including fun interactive kinesthetic, visual, and auditory components in video games that appeal to a broad segment of students, including those who do not excel in traditional science classroom environments;2) effectively teach neuroscience concepts of anatomy, neurological function, perception, emotions, behavior, self- and social-awareness, in ways students can apply to their daily lives;and 3) increase interest in neuroscience careers during a developmental time when concrete identification with future careers emerges. We will assess the neuroscience games by partnering with Wake Forest School of Medicine's Center of Excellence for Research, Teaching and Learning (CERTL). CERTL's mission includes increasing the participation and success of underrepresented minority students in advanced STEM courses and increasing the interest and commitment of all students, especially those of underrepresented populations, in STEM careers including neuroscience. Feedback and evaluation by elementary school teachers in focus groups during game development will maintain classroom relevance;assist in the creation of useful grade-appropriate curriculum material;and guide game ideas for engagement and efficiency in conveying neuroscience learning objectives to our target audience. In-class evaluation by students, teachers and a trained CERTL observer will provide definitive data on student excitement/engagement in the games, increased interest in neuroscience and future neuroscience careers, attainment of learning objectives, and transference of virtual lessons into the real-world classroom. Our target audience is students in grades 3-5, parents and elementary teachers. The commercial aim of this project will be a $100 system that includes motion-control hardware;a suite of games that adds onto existing PCs, developed curricula, all of which can be used in the classroom, afterschool programs, and private homes.
This proposal will build a framework that supports interactive kinesthetic, visual, and auditory components for fun and engaging neuroscience educational games. Three games will teach basic concepts about the brain, sensation, cognition, emotions, and behavior. If successful, the project will provide a teaching platform for the classroom, afterschool activities, and the home that will encourage students to acquire an interest in neuroscience learning and careers, and an ability to apply neuroscience to their daily lives.