Carnegie Mellon Students To Develop Embodied Learning Scenarios for K-12

This year, students at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh will help SMALLab Learning develop new embodied learning scenarios for middle and elementary school students.

Embodied learning involves motion-capture technology tracking students' 3D movements as they learn subjects while up on their feet. SMALLab (situated multimedia art learning lab) creates a space with a projected computer display that students can enter and move around on. It is engendered by concepts that blend human computer interaction with learning sciences, with the understanding that students learn more effectively when lessons are combined with bodily experiences.

For example, students studying a physics concept like velocity can hear sounds of their actions getting faster, and they can feel the weight of objects in their hands as they interact in real physical space.

When studying the chemical concept of titration, students can use a "virtual flask" projected onto the floor. They can "grab" molecules from the sidelines and insert them into the flask, leading to a discussion about how molecules react.

College students at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center will use courseware development tools developed by SMALLab, with support and mentoring from representatives from the company founded by Arizona State University researchers five years ago.

"We have seen first-hand how powerful SMALLab can be as an environment for K-12 classroom learning," said CMU Entertainment Technology Center Director Drew Davidson.

The Carnegie Mellon students will experiment with their projects with elementary and middle school classes at eight school districts around the Pittsburgh area.

"The Entertainment Technology Center students are among the brightest anywhere and we're eager to see what they create," said SMALLab Learning CEO David Birchfield. "When releasing our developer tools, our goal was to improve student outcomes by engaging the broader community. It's exciting to see this vision come to fruition."

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.