NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1176129
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
Pages: 27
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-2165-3151
Enhancing Children's Interest and Knowledge in Bioengineering through an Interactive Videogame
Strawhacker, Amanda; Sullivan, Amanda; Verish, Clarissa; Bers, Marina Umaschi; Shaer, Orit
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, v17 p55-81 2018
Aim/Purpose: Bioengineering is a burgeoning interdisciplinary learning domain that could inspire the imaginations of elementary aged children but is not traditionally taught to this age group for reasons unrelated to student ability. This pilot study presents the BacToMars videogame and accompanying curricular intervention, designed to introduce children (aged 7-11) to foundational concepts of bioengineering and to the interdisciplinary nature of scientific endeavors. Background: This pilot study explores the bioengineering-related learning outcomes and attitudes of children after engaging with the BacToMars game and curriculum intervention. Methodology: This study drew on prior findings in game-based learning and applied them to a videogame designed to connect microbiology with Constructionist microworlds. An experimental comparison showed the learning and engagement affordances of integrating this videogame into a mixed-media bioengineering curriculum. Elementary-aged children (N = 17) participated in a 9-hour learning intervention, with one group of n = 8 children receiving the BacToMars videogame and the other group (n = 9) receiving traditional learning activities on the same content. Pre- and post-surveys and interview data were collected from both groups. Contribution: This paper contributes to education research on children's ability to meaningfully engage with abstract concepts at the intersection of science and engineering through bioengineering education, and to design research on developing educational technology for introducing bioengineering content to elementary school children. Findings: Children in both groups showed improved knowledge and attitudes related to bioengineering. Children who used BacToMars showed slightly stronger performance on game-specific concepts, while children in the control condition showed slightly higher generalized knowledge of bioengineering concepts. Recommendations for Practitioners: Practitioners should consider bioengineering as a domain for meaningful, interdisciplinary learning in elementary education. Recommendation for Researchers: Design researchers should develop playful ways to introduce bioengineering concepts accurately and to engage children's imaginations and problem-solving skills. Education researchers should further investigate developmentally appropriate ways to introduce bioengineering in elementary education. Impact on Society: BacToMars introduces a meaningful scenario to contextualize complex concepts at the intersection of science and engineering, and to engage children in real-world, interdisciplinary problem solving. Future Research: Future research should explore BacToMars and bioengineering curricula for elementary-aged children in larger samples, with longer intervention times.
Informing Science Institute. 131 Brookhill Court, Santa Rosa, CA 95409. Tel: 707-531-4925; Fax: 480-247-5724; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF), Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: 1149530