Simulation and Modeling in Technology Education (SMTE) is a five-year project of National Science Foundation that develops and researches the academic potential of a hybrid instructional model that infuses computer simulations, modeling, and educational gaming into middle school technology education programs. These prototypical materials use 3D simulations and educational gaming to support students learning STEM content and skills through developing solutions to design challenges.
The virtual environment allows students to analyze and improve their designs by changing variables and observing how their changes affect design performance. Once the designs are optimized on-screen, students will construct physical models and compare their functionality and effectiveness to the simulated virtual models. A uniqueness of the project is the development of an enterprise architecture that enables instructors to modify the context of the design problems to fit different instructional and geographic settings. The research investigates the transferability of the model and its potential to improve STEM teaching and learning.
The content is driven by the concepts and skills identified in the K-12 Standards for Technological Literacy (STL). The partners are Hofstra University’s Center for Technological Literacy, the State University of New York at Buffalo, the NSF National Center for Telecommunications Technologies, Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, and the City University of New York.
The project, conducted by Hofstra University, has designed a four-week-long 3D computer game called Survival Master and a companion physical modeling curriculum specifically for middle school engineering and technology education students and teachers based on the Standards for Technological Literacy. Project research is comparing student learning and engagement in gaming and more traditional physical modeling delivery modes.
The browser-based 3D computer game teaches students about surface area and volume of geometric shapes, heat flow, and structural design in the context of a challenge to design a shelter for survivors of an earthquake in a very cold climate. The shelter must be designed to retain the heat generated by four survivors, and withstand a given snow load and wind load.
The Beta Testing in Fall 2012 provides 8th grade Technology Education teachers with the opportunity to use the product with the assistance of the project developers and expert engineering and technology educators who have pilot-tested the materials. Participants will be provided with complimentary access to the game and the physical modeling curriculum for use with their classes.