Skip Navigation
January 2011

From the National Center for Education Research (NCER)

IES Small Business Innovation Research Gives Students Access to Virtual Physics Labs

Screenshot of the Virtual Physics Lab

The Institute's SBIR program funds the full-scale development and research of education technology products. The ultimate goal for the program is for developed products to be sold in the private sector. One measure of success is the interest of other businesses in the products developed with SBIR funding. In December 2010, Polyhedron signed a contract with the publisher Cengage Learning to distribute the Virtual Physics Lab along with their textbooks to colleges, universities, and Advanced Placement high school physics programs.

An IES grantee is working to bring a "virtual" laboratory experience to students in introductory college-level physics courses, which is especially important for those taking these courses online or at schools that cannot afford the expense of real laboratory equipment.

Since 2004, a West Virginia-based small business, Polyhedron Learning Technologies, has specialized in developing multimedia curriculum and content solutions for the education and health science sectors. With a 2007 award from the Institute's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, Polyhedron successfully developed the Virtual Physics Lab, a set of 28 college-level online laboratories that include background theory, video introductions, 3D simulations, and quizzes and are accessible through typical course management systems. Results from their research indicated that students using the virtual labs learned at the same rate as students who used real laboratory equipment.

For more information about the virtual labs, contact Polyhedron at For more information about the Institute's SBIR program, visit