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IES Contract

Title: Tinker Machines
Center: NCER Year: 2023
Principal Investigator: Blackstock-Bernstein, Anne Awardee: Playspaces, Inc.
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 8 months (07/17/2023 – 03/17/2024) Award Amount: $250,000
Type: Phase I Development Award Number: 91990023C0019

Purpose: In recent years, digital games have been used to motivate and engage students in STEM, through exploring, designing, building, testing, and redesigning solutions while receiving automated feedback to scaffold and facilitate learning. This project team will develop a prototype of Tinker Machines, an Artificial Intelligence-based collaborative puzzle game to improve STEM literacy and creative problem-solving skills for students in upper grade school.

Project Activities: The project team will develop a prototype in Phase I that will include one activity focusing on a real-world issue (e.g., renewable energy), guiding students through scientific method of hypothesis generation, planning, and testing, and multiple ways to apply scientific knowledge about the topic. At the end of Phase I, a pilot study will test the prototype with six upper grade school classes with educators and 120 students. Researchers will examine if the prototype functions as intended, if students complete tasks and are engaged while playing the game, if students use feedback to inform gameplay, and if students improve in content from a pre-test to post-test on measures of science learning aligned to the topic of renewable energy.

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