SBIR Phase II: Developing a Commercial Video Game for Tweens to Support Complex Systems Thinking

Period of Performance: 01/01/2009 - 12/31/2009


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Information in Place, Inc.
Suite 206, 501 N. Morton St.
Bloomington, IN 47404
Principal Investigator


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II research project will support middle school students in learning STEM concepts and problem solving through the use of a problem-based curriculum and video game with embedded scaffolds (e.g., guidance, tools, resources). The project will focus on the design, development, and testing of the usability, feasibility, and implementation of the Virtual Astronaut Learning Platform (VALP), an immersive, problem-based video game approach to improving STEM learning outcomes. The three-part model will combine the latest in learning sciences research and design with the best in commercial game play, and includes a new serious game-learning methodology - Mission Based Learning; a new game genre, First Person Explorer; and an approach - STEaM, which integrates creativity into STEM activities. The research will include iterative design and rapid prototype testing in school settings during Year 1 and a full-scale quasi-experimental design field test in Year 2. Additionally, the research will examine learning gains related to STEM concepts and problem solving approaches, changes in attitudes towards STEM-related careers, and changes in student self-efficacy related to science inquiry and technology; and will help to advance knowledge related to effective educational game design and implementation. The Virtual Astronaut Learning Platform will result in a commercial quality 3D game environment that supports single player and collaborative multi-player