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SISTEMAS: Stimulating Immersive Science Through Engaging Motivating and Authentic Scenarios

  • Sponsor
    National Institutes of Health
  • Principal investigator
    Georgia Hodges
    Associate Research Scientist, Department of Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies Education
  • Co-principal investigator
    Xiaoming Zhai
    Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies
    Allan S. Cohen
    Professor Emeritus, Department of Educational Psychology
  • Active since
    May 2022

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The focus of the SISTEMAS proposal is to support and equip underrepresented students, with a particular focus on Latinx multilingual learners (LML), to enter the STEM pipeline and persist. The proposal addresses the issue at the beginning of the pipeline, when children often decide whether they can do science and math and whether they can become future scientists. The research team hypothesizes that if students are exposed to inclusive, strategically designed learning environments in which they develop their scientific literacy and 21st century problem-solving skills, more students will consider science as a possible career choice.

The project is articulated in four specific aims, including:

  • Creating two new versions of Virtual Vet—a narrative rich, read-aloud version and a Spanish version—to reach a more diverse student population with the international, award-winning game
  • Developing a new immersive environment, Virtual Vet Middle Grades, that targets a deeper understanding of the human body through the study of genetics
  • Creating a responsive and customized environment in Virtual Vet that leverages deep learning approaches to provide timely feedback to students and teachers
  • Developing a five-day STEM camp on the campus of the University of Georgia in the Department of Genetics to provide inclusive and ambitious science learning experiences specifically supporting LML students by providing instruction in English and Spanish

Through partnership with six school districts, more than 6,000 students will garner access to Virtual Vet and Virtual Vet Middle Grades. This sample size will equip the research team to examine student knowledge, attitudes toward science, interest in pursuing a science field, and students’ mindset towards learning with a particular focus on how novel translanguaging support equips LML learners to succeed in science in a digital environment.

© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602