Twin Cities high school life science teachers take part in NSF-supported Focus Group
Minneapolis, Minnesota: Educational technology start-up Andamio Games conducted the first of a series of focus groups and classroom trials to determine the effectiveness and ease-of-use of CellEnergy, a new app designed to help high school students learn photosynthesis, and master related scientific practices.
The focus group was conducted as part of a $728,000 National Science Foundation Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant which supports the development a collaborative, virtual lab environment for mobile devices that will help students learn difficult-to-teach STEM subjects.
Participating teachers were drawn mainly from the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Public School districts, and represented a range of experience from 4 to 14 years in the classroom. They reviewed an outline of the challenge-based curriculum, then tested a prototype of a biology class virtual lab, as well as an interactive lab report with digital graphing capability. According to Barbara Billington, STEM Education faculty member at the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development and member of Andamio’s team, “The virtual labs were extremely well received, especially how they empower students to design and run their own experiments.”
"The response by these teachers just underscores the need and desire for tools that support active learning in the classroom," says Andamio Games president Adam Gordon. "Since the beginning of this project, we have relied on teachers to tell us where we got it right and wrong, and what we can do better to help them integrate this transformative technology into the flow of their classroom instruction."
Future groups will test additional International Baccalaureate (IB)- and Advanced Placement (AP)-level curriculum that include collaborative challenges on the scientific method and a dashboard for teachers that provides real-time feedback to guide instruction. The project will culminate in a classroom-based study next fall and the launching of the completed app on mobile platforms.
About Andamio Games: Andamio Games® builds mobile device apps using evidence-based teaching methods that make difficult science subjects more engaging and easier to learn. Through a combination of scaffolded lessons, challenge-based assessments, virtual labs, and collaborative problem solving, Andamio designs classroom and workplace instruction that is interactive, fun, and effective.