SBIR Phase II: Game-Based Learning for Organic Chemistry Using Mechanisms

Period of Performance: 03/01/2017 - 02/28/2019

$750K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Alchemie
4735 Walnut Lake Road Array
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project answers the call that science students go beyond memorizing facts to understand content on a deeper, conceptual level. In chemistry, this goal is particularly difficult to achieve because the underlying concepts describe the behaviors of particles that are not directly observable to students. College instructors are also under added pressure to transform their teaching methods to help ensure student retention and success. In the subject area of organic chemistry, this transformation is even more important, due to the relatively high fail-rate in the course, especially for under-represented minorities and first generation students. The mobile learning tools and data collection platform in this project would help to solve both of these issues with an innovative method for intuitive learning and assessment which helps to make molecules and reactions come alive with game-based mobile applications. The game apps are playable by students of all ages, so the concepts of organic chemistry, as well as other science courses, become familiar and accessible as early as middle school. The broader vision is to open the pipeline for students to progress into STEM careers which have been difficult to reach in the past. This project makes the theoretical touchable for organic chemistry students by building mobile game-based learning tools based on mechanisms, a key underlying concept used to teaching the course. This project will produce the Mechanisms suite of game apps, and bring an intuitive, tactile interface to learning chemistry. The research and development of this phase of the project will expand the user interaction model from Phase I to multiple modules of content for students. The data from the mobile learning tools will be synthesized with machine learning techniques to create an adaptive method to ensure the applications provide the appropriate level of challenge to the student learner. Clinical and longitudinal efficacy studies will be part of the research effort as the game modules are developed and released. The data platform will be optimized to integrate with multiple learning management systems and to be readily expandable to subjects beyond organic chemistry. The dashboard of the platform will allow both instructors and students to access the data and inform learning processes to achieve greater comprehension and success in the course. Commercialization will be achieved through direct-to-student downloads, subscriptions of the data platform by institutions, and licensing the technology to courseware providers.