A multi-user virtual Biology environment for discovery-oriented science education

Period of Performance: 04/15/2008 - 10/14/2009

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Wowiwe Instruction Company
1044 12TH ST. N.
Fargo, ND 58102
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This SBIR Phase 1 project is intended for consideration under the NIH Development of Discovery-Oriented Software and Tools for Science Education category through the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) We propose to undertake a 6-month project aimed at studying the feasibility of re-purposing the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Virtual Cell project to a commercially viable internet-based game. The Virtual Cell is an immersive 3D simulation of cellular processes including organelle function, respiration, and photo-synthesis, where students "fly through" an animated cell and learn Biology by conducting experiments as a biologist would. This approach has been proven and validated in college classrooms. This project seeks to determine the feasibility of porting the laboratory oriented, rapid prototype NDSU software suitable for addressing flexible research questions, to a modern software platform suitable for dissemination and commercialization. The software development will be conducted by WoWiWe Instruction Co. Coordination of software metric and evaluation studies will be conducted by the North Dakota State University Principal Investigators, and NDSU graduate research students under their supervision. Public Health Relevance: The relevance of this project to public health is three-fold. First, the research is aimed at developing and distributing new models for science education, thus providing new methods of learning in the classroom and leading to a more scientifically literate public. Second, through test results, this project lays the groundwork for other topics to be developed for science education in the same media. Third, the project promotes learning of the sciences in a virtual modality, like the online games that currently absorb our youth: for example, World of Warcraft and Second Life, among many others.