Summary: A Tucson, Arizona small business was awarded a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to create an educational app for middle school science education.
Tucson, Arizona. Wednesday, June 6, 2012 – As they enter into adolescence, middle school children face a bewildering array of questions that affect their health and happiness, such as: “Am I normal?” “Can I really get addicted to video games?” “Why is it so important to exercise and eat good foods?” And, “How much sleep do I really need now that I’m no longer a kid?”
Typically, teachers, parents, friends, and the media offer middle schoolers a lot of advice about such issues, usually telling them what they should and shouldn’t do. Unfortunately, such advice often isn’t heeded by young people who are eager to make decisions on their own. Science Approach, a small business located in Tucson, Arizona, hopes to change all that by helping students in grades 5-8 use neuroscience to better understand the impacts of important personal choices on their developing brains.
Recently funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Science Approach’s Phase I VoxelDiscovery 5-8 project will develop a prototype app that guides students through the process of conducting neuroimaging research. Using real research images provided by collaborating neuroscientists, the students will study the effects of exercise, socializing, and alcohol consumption on brain development, structure, and functioning. The app will be developed in collaboration with middle school teachers nationwide and students participating in the Upward Bound program at Pima Community College’s Downtown Campus in Tucson, Arizona.
“VoxelDiscovery will make a unique contribution to science teaching in the middle grades,” said Steven Moore, Ph.D., Science Approach’s CEO and director of the project. “In grades 5 through 8, life science instruction typically focuses on topics like structure and function, regulation and behavior, and the diversity and adaptations of organisms. Personal health is taught separately and usually doesn’t employ scientific inquiry. Rarely is life science and personal health taught together. We feel that the app will empower young students to use scientific evidence to evaluate the impacts of the choices they make.”
Data visualization and collaborative inquiry are key elements of the VoxelDiscovery app being developed by Science Approach. Students using the app will measure and count features in the research images and share their data with other students via the Internet. Because the app will connect to Science Approach’s e-learning system, classrooms of students will be able to collaboratively analyze their data, test hypotheses they have developed, make presentations to one another, and discuss their results.
“VoxelDiscovery will help students go beyond just using technology to point and click,” said Dr. Moore. “It will empower them to become lifelong learners who use 21st century visualization, analysis, and communication technologies to conduct science on their own and apply what they have learned to everyday life.”
About Science Approach
Incorporated in 2002, Science Approach, LLC is dedicated to promoting data discovery for learners of all ages. In support of this mission, Science Approach develops e-labs that feature use of student-friendly data visualization and analysis technologies.
Steven Moore, Ph.D.
(520) 322-0118, ext. 205
(520) 322-0118, ext. 205