Educational Assessment Tools Embedded in STEM VR Games – Killer Snails

[music] Rhiannon’s Lark:
Killer snails, assassins of the sea,
Killer snails… Jessica Ochoa Hendrix: There are
actually these venomous marine snails that are among the deadliest
creatures on the planet and they are so deadly
they can kill a 200 pound person in under three minutes. And when scientists
discovered this and they discovered
how potent that venom was they began taking that venom
and back to the lab synthesizing the proteins in it and creating pain
killers for humans that are alternatives
to opioids. We began looking at what’s
happening in education and what teachers are using
in their classrooms and sort of the trends
of like what are kids into, what do they like doing and what
are teachers trying to use to get kids excited
about content that they may not have
been excited about before. Lindsay Portnoy: And there’s
the where is the biggest need in science, right?
Jessica Ochoa Hendrix: Yeah. Lindsay Portnoy: So where we saw
the biggest need in science that aligned to these
venomous marine snails was starting in
sixth grade kids really start dropping out of
science and especially girls. And so we wanted
to sort of create a game a way of having kids play a game where they would learn
this complicated content but they wouldn’t really realize
that they were learning it because they’re playing
a deck building card game. So the mechanics
of the game itself is what’s teaching
the content and so it’s—they don’t really see it
as typical rote instruction, it’s not linear in a way
that traditional instruction is. Jessica Ochoa Hendrix: In
the game you are a scientist and you are trying to discover
what these peptides are that will make up
this pain killer. We call those the cabals, which is what they’re
called in real science, and you are feeding
and caring for your snails and by feeding them
different prey they produce different peptides, again, just like
they do in nature. Lindsay Portnoy: The
predator of the turtle is teaching what
the predators do to these creatures
in real life. They go diving into the ocean,
they find these venomous snails, they pick them up
with their salad tongs and they bring them
back to the lab where they synthesize
the venom glands and they synthesize the peptides
within the venom glands and then they create
these biomedical applications for us as humans. They learn the different
roles of the scientists. They see themselves as not
just scientists in the lab but scientists who could
do a host of things. Jessica Ochoa Hendrix: There’s
like one button on the cardboard that you can either tap it,
you can hold it down, you can double tap it and we start thinking
about what we could track and measure using basically
just positional tracking and a one click button. Lindsay Portnoy: Yeah so we’re
leveraging basically a ten dollar
piece of equipment to collect some
really valuable data about the way that children
are engaging in the game; what are they looking at,
what are they curious about and how are they
engaging with it based on just a simple button. Jessica Ochoa Hendrix:
We’re able to track data from it so that we can actually
see what they’re doing, where they’re spending time on,
where they’re looking, what they’re curious about so we’re building
all of that into the game so that it stays the exact
same for a fun experience but that teachers
and people on the back end can look and see and say like, “Oh, kids seem to be
really interested in trying to catch
these lobsters. Let’s add another
feature onto here where they can catch a lobster and we can tell them
all about lobsters and build in like
a little mini-session on that. Lindsay Portnoy: We have
preliminary research here from a couple
of different schools. What is showed was by simply
depositing this digital game on the laps of these
students pre-imposed testing they had an average
knowledge acquisition of between eighteen
and twenty seven percent which is pretty fantastic having
no prior knowledge, right, so there’s no
foundational information that the teachers
are giving them; they can step back and say,
“Oh, I could do that. I could see myself
doing this type of science.” So for us this very preliminary
data is very exciting. This NSF funding
has really helped us. I mean we were able to present
our work to audiences that we never would
have accessed before. We’re very grateful to have it and we’re really
excited for the kids that are now seeing themselves as active participants
in science. [music] Rhiannon’s Lark: Killer snails,
hiding on the ocean floor.

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