This project will develop a suite of innovative learning experiences that will engage high school students in neuroscience and thereby increase their interest in possible careers in this area. This will be achieved by creating highly interactive and immersive products developed in partnership with neuroscience experts, science teachers, and science education researchers. These products will be scaffolded, content-rich and inquiry-driven videogames, interactive modules and interactive case studies that will challenge students to solve real-world problems. This will help students develop the scientific habits of mind that characterize scientists, namely making observations, analyzing data, generating hypotheses, and reaching conclusions. In Phase I, we prototyped two games, Brain Runner and Against The Gradient, developed a suite of interactive guides for membrane transporters, membrane potential, action potentials and synaptic transmission, and a 100-page iBook detailing how ligands, receptors and second messenger systems work. In collaboration with our neuroscience experts, we also produced the design documents for four interactive case studies that have at their heart, the application of key scientific practices. These case studies will focus on the concepts identified by teachers that are critical failure points for their students, namely membrane transport mechanisms (Scorpion Envenomation), membrane potential and actions potentials (Epilepsy), nerve-to-nerve (Parkinson's disease) and neuromuscular (Myasthenia Gravis) synaptic transmission. Key components of the case studies will be the interactive modules and other resources that will help scaffold the learning experience for students. We will also create specific versions of Against the Gradient for each of the core concepts covered in our interactive case studies.
The Specific Aims of Phase II are:
Aim 1 a &2a: Develop, field-test and refine interactive modules and case studies regarding membrane transport, membrane potential and action potentials, nerve-to-nerve and neuromuscular synaptic transmission.
Aim 1 b &2b: Develop, field-test and refine Against the Gradient modules that address membrane transport, membrane potential and action potentials, nerve-to-nerve and neuromuscular synaptic transmission.
Aim 3 : Develop and validate assessment items regarding membrane transport, membrane potential, action potentials and synaptic transmission.
Aim 4 : Determine the effect of the interactive modules and case studies on student understanding of membrane transport, membrane potential, action potentials and synaptic transmission.
Aim 5 : Prepare the interactive modules, games, case studies and iBooks for product launches. Completion of this Phase II project will result in a suite of effective products for neuroscience education, which wil be brought to market in partnership with a major distributor of science education products.
Although diseases of the nervous system, such as Parkinson's disease, are critical health problems in the United States, few of our students are interested in careers aimed at combating these diseases. This project will address this problem by using cutting edge technologies to create a suite of interactive teaching materials that will engage high school students in fundamental neuroscience concepts.