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2016 SRE Project

Developing Computer Games for Teaching Biology

Dr. Susan Riechert, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UTK
Dr. Michael Jantz, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, UTK
Kelly Sturner, Education and Outreach Coordinator, NIMBioS

Participants: Samuel Iselin (Valparaiso Univ.), Howsikan Kugathasan (Fisk Univ.), and Jacob Miller (Univ. of Kentucky)

photo. Our team will reconfigure physical exercises associated with the Biology in a Box Project Fossil unit into computer simulation games. The idea is to offer novel learning experiences that are structured as entertaining games rather than merely tutorials and exercises. For example, in testing a player's understanding of scientific notation, we might require he or she to run an avatar down a geological time line within x seconds to locate periods drawn from a 'hat'. The time line will be in different notation from the time drawn, necessitating conversion. This game mirrors an exercise from the Biology in a Box Fossil unit: Geological Time Scale. We might also choose to develop a game that utilizes our existing 3D Cambrian World populated by 22 species. Players will be introduced to the evolutionary history of biodiversity through game play. They will explore the three ancient sea worlds from a first person perspective under the challenge of capturing images of the 'living' forms of fossils (see image for an example). In this sense the game is similar to a museum panorama or zoo exhibit. Students with prior programming experience are encouraged to apply.

Educational computer game: Fossil Finder   Note: Uses Unity Web Player, which is not available for all platforms.


Project group (from L): Michael Jantz, Susan Riechert, Jacob Miller, Howsikan Kugathasan, Samuel Iselin, Kelly Sturner

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From 2008 until early 2021, NIMBioS was supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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