Science Through Technology Enhanced Play

Professor Noel Enyedy, Ph.D.

Graduate School of Education & Information Studies

Participants: Primary classrooms 3. 11, 12, 9 &10

Key Words: Modeling, Science Education, Augmented Reality

This project has developed two science units–states of matter and pollination–that employ commercially available sensing equipment to support early elementary science classrooms to use play to model and simulate science concepts. The National Science Foundation, has awarded the team two follow up grants to add additional features such as the integration of iPads and more interactivity.  The research findings of this study will inform the field about the ways in which young students can engage in authentic scientific modeling, and the ways that technological tools can enhance this process. Furthermore, the research findings will demonstrate how students’ play activities can be leveraged to support academic learning activities in developmentally appropriate ways. The STEP project aims to use new sensing technologies to help transform young children’s physical actions during pretend play into a set of symbolic representations and parameters in a science simulation. As students  physically move around the classroom,the computer will track their motion and interactions with selected objects and translate their physical activity into a shared display. Imagine something like an educational version of the Kinect game console where instead of just playing games, the students are engaging in scientific inquiry and modeling. Through these play­as­modeling activities, students will learn the core concepts of science, and theconceptual skills of modeling and systematic measurement. In addition to the motion tracking technology, the researchers are also using Apple watches and iPads for participants to interact with.  STEP will implement this new type of learning environment in five experimental classrooms at UCLA Lab School Students in all classrooms will participate in pre­ and post­ test interviews on the science concepts.