Grant supports development of a virtual lab and collaborative games to teach cell biology
Minneapolis, Minnesota: Educational technology innovator Andamio Games has been awarded a $728,000 Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation to support the development of collaborative games and a virtual lab environment for mobile devices that will help high school students learn difficult-to-teach STEM subjects.
The funding will underwrite a research project that brings together accomplished application development engineers from Andamio Games and local experts in biology instruction, learning science, and usability design. This team will design a series of tablet-based lessons and challenges to help high school students master concepts related to photosynthesis and cell respiration. Additional innovations funded by the grant include a virtual lab environment, the integration and analysis of real-world climate data, and classroom tools for teachers so they can differentiate instruction between General Biology and AP-level classes.
Andamio Games will partner with life science teachers from Saint Paul Public Schools to conduct a classroom study in the second year of the project. Lessons will be designed and research directed by leading science educators at the University of Minnesota, including: Sehoya Cotner, Associate Professor of Biology; Dr. Barbara Billington of the STEM Education Center at the College of Education and Human Development; and Christopher Desjardins, Research Associate at the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement.
Andamio Games’ patented method of mobile device collaboration is the cornerstone innovation that makes the NSF-funded project possible. The technology builds on the most recent thinking in educational psychology, affording teachers the ability to provide appropriately individualized instruction without separating students into ability-based groups.
“Science teacher feedback in Phase I of the project reconfirmed the value of our multi-player approach and also led us to the addition of a virtual biology lab,” says Andamio Games president Adam Gordon. “Teachers wanted their students to get a practical experience of scientific experimentation — including when it doesn't go quite as expected — independent of the usual costs and time commitments for conventional lab experiments.”
Andamio Games’ first product, iNeuron, is a collaborative mobile device game designed to help teachers improve neuroscience education in high-school biology and psychology classrooms. Version 2 has been downloaded over 85,000 times since its release in June, and was the subject of a year-long classroom evaluation study that will be published later this year.
About Andamio Games: Andamio Games® builds evidence-based mobile device games to make hard-to-learn subjects more engaging and accessible. Through a combination of scaffolded lessons, game-based assessments, interactive labs, and collaborative problem solving, Andamio aims to make classroom and workplace instruction more active, fun, and effective.