Discovery Learning Research Center

2006 Seed Grant Program

The third annual DLRC seed grant competition generated 20 proposal submissions totaling $670,650. The DLRC selected the following projects for Spring 2006 totaling more than $110,000:

Game-based Learning in Chemistry, Gabriela Weaver, Department of Chemistry and Carlos Morales, Department of Computer Graphics Technology. This project examines the elements of game design that promote content learning and motivation for continued play. These elements are used to develop instructional technologies targeted specifically at teaching chemistry concepts. The project team has developed a game prototype and begun testing it with undergraduate students. The team has carried out two phases of testing associated with this project, and is currently carrying out the third phase of testing. In phase 1, students evaluated various aspects of popular commercial games. In phase 2, students evaluated the same aspects of the projects prototype room. In phase 3, students are evaluating the entire prototype game and comparing it to popular commercial games. In addition, researchers will not only test the game play elements but also chemistry content learning on the part of players. This research serves to bridge the work that has occurred in chemistry education with that of game development, and will help to provide a data-driven theoretical model for the effective use of game elements to teach scientific concepts, specifically in chemistry.

Instructional Technology in First-Year Physics Education, Erina MacGeorge, Department of Communication, and Stephen Durbin, Department of Physics. Beginning in Fall 2006, the Department of Physics replaced the traditional first-year physics curriculum with two new courses. Substantial revisions to course content are supported by extensive and integrated use of two types of technology: an audience response system (ARS) in the lectures, and a simulation package in the labs. This project supports a systematic, longitudinal assessment of student response to these technologies, with the specific aims of describing how students respond to the technologies, examining how the variability in student characteristics, instructional use, and course content are associated with response to the technology, and generating ideas to improve the technologies.

The Impact of Performing Arts on Science Learning, Julie Conlon, David H. Miller, Barbara Cooper, and Roger Boyce, Department of Physics, Laura Clavio, Department of Convocations and Lectures, Mike Mullis, Graduate School, Tom Turpin, Department of Entomology, Lynn Bryan, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Deborah Bennett, Department of Educational Studies. This project evaluates the impact of using performing arts in various forms to present science to elementary school children and teachers. Program goals include using surveys and focus groups and other feedback to evaluate the impact of employing performing arts to present science; enhancing teacher skills in the performing arts to teach science; and developing units that could be included in the 5E learning Model. These goals were met by a presentation of the Super Scientific Circus, a theatrical show that teaches basic physics and other science skills, which was presented by Purdue Convocations. In addition, the performers and outreach personnel held a workshop for teachers in advance of the performance to instruct them on the science skills demonstrated in the show and to give them activities to follow up with in the classroom after the show. Results of this project demonstrate that seeing science shows can have positive impact on students enjoyment in learning science. The project also had a positive impact on the teachers who participated and they came away with new skills to use in the classroom.

Genomics Revolution Uncloaked: A Virtual Expedition through the Genomics Landscape, David Salt, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Genomics Research & Technology, Bindley Bioscience Center, and and Jon Bricker, Department of Agricultural Communications. Living systems are supported and sustained by their genomes through the action of the transcriptome, proteome, metabolome and ionome, the four basic biochemical pillars of functional genomics. These pillars represent the sum of all the expressed genes, proteins, metabolites and elements within an organism. The dynamic response and interaction of these biochemical omes defines how a living system functions, and its study, genomics, is presently one of the biggest challenges in the life sciences. This project will dramatically illustrate these complex interactions in a virtual web-based rendition of a large 3D interactive cellular environment. Participants will be guided through a visually stimulating and interactive environment designed to illuminate the core principles underlying the integration of the various disciplines that make up genomics. As these principles are revealed to the participant, strong and lasting connections will be forged between genomics and key areas of human society, including human health, agriculture and the environment. The virtual environment will be built around an accurate rendition of a living plant cell, showing various cellular organelles and how they function and interact. The DLRC is supporting this project through staff and in-kind support.


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