‘Intelligent’ tutor aids science students online

Instead of storing problems and answers, the technology behind the Quantum Intelligent Tutor stores rules and principles.

“The program has to have the ability to think a little bit, instead of just memorizing the stuff in the database,” Johnson said. “That’s how artificial intelligence works.”

The Quantum Intelligent Tutor covers science questions on balancing equations, learning elements, assigning oxidation numbers, mole concepts, measure concepts, and writing mathematical and chemical formulas.

When students log on to the tutor online, they can either type in their own equation or choose from a list of common problems. Then, the tutor guides the student through the problem step by step. At each step, it prompts the student with questions to ask that help explain why the problem is solved that way.

Two Pittsburgh science teachers have been piloting Quantum’s Intelligent Tutor with their students.

Richard Mathews, director of science for the Pittsburgh Public Schools, said he was impressed by the tutor because it was the first intelligent tutor designed specifically for science instruction that he has seen. It reminded him of the Cognitive Tutor for algebra developed by Carnegie Mellon University, he said.

The teachers who piloted the tutor in his district gave it mixed reviews, but Mathews said the problems were more the result of its implementation, and not the technology itself.

“Although this is easy to use, in hindsight we would have tried to provide more professional development,” Matthews said.

Quantum is also interested in distributing its tutor through other publishers.


Quantum Simulations Inc.

Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Pittsburgh Public Schools

eSchool News Staff

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