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Mr. Vetro: Collective Simulations in the Classroom for teaching health science


Mr. Vetro© is a simulated human being whose organs such as the heart and lungs are distributed on client simulations running on handhelds. Students manipulate key features of Mr. Vetro's physiology, such as heart, respiration, and exercise intensity rates and observe the interaction of systems in the body in real time. Can you keep Mr. Vetro alive? What if Mr. Vetro smokes? What if he exercises? Students see real-time effects of their decisions while working in small groups.

We invite you to use our interactive flyer to play around with Mr. Vetro's parameters to get a sense of the interactions that occur and explains each aspect of the application. A PDF version of this flyer can be used for printing.

The concept: C5 Architecture

C5 is a distributed simulation framework that uniquely combines five principles for compact, connected, continuous, customizable, and collective simulations. It integrates hardware and software components into a unique and effective learning environment. C5 is especially well suited for collaborative science and math projects.

The classroom as laboratory:

The results:

We have tested the Mr. Vetro technology and curriculum in three local high schools. Five science teachers participated: two teaching only using Mr. Vetro (treatment); two teaching in their conventional way only (comparison), and one teaching both using Mr. Vetro and in the conventional way. A total of fifteen science classes participated: Biology, AP Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, and IP Biology. About 400 students, ages 14-18 were part of those classes.

Education and evaluation experts from the University of Colorado School of Education, working with science teachers and the development team, created lesson plans and designed an evaluation study that yielded very encouraging results.

The data shows that RTOP performance was increased in all categories in the Mr. Vetro classrooms as compared to the comparison group. In general, teachers moved around the classroom, were engaged one on one with students, answered group questions as needed and spent limited time in didactic information transfer. The Mr. Vetro simulation allowed for true inquiry. Students were actively learning how the simulation worked, making predictions, testing their predictions and incorporating new understandings into their mental model of how the human body works. The Mr. Vetro activities required students to synthesize information and draw connections between old and new information. Finally, the activities not only encouraged the use of language, but it was essential to make the system operate effectively. Students read the messages and decoded the numerical values while communicating with the group the changes they were making to the system. Mr. Vetro classrooms exemplified the synergism between science and language.

The opportunity

This project represents a powerful combination of newly available technology, cutting-edge software suited to educational applications, new emerging tools and a uniquely experienced team. AgentSheets, Inc. is actively seeking such commercialization partners to participate in and support the development and commercialization of this project. If you are interested in exploring a potential collaboration, please contact us.

Relevant Papers

Ioannidou, A. (2010). Mr. Vetro, a Collective Simulation Cyberlearning Infrastructure for Science Education. Paper presented at the 2010 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado.

Repenning, A., Ioannidou, A., Webb, D., Keyser, D., MacGillivary, H., Marshall, K. S., et al. (2010). Teaching Computational Thinking through the Scalable Game Design Curriculum. Paper presented at the 2010 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado.

Repenning, A., Ioannidou, A., Dättwyler, C., Luhn, L., & Repenning, N. (2010). Mr. Vetro: Assessing a Collective Simulation Framework. Journal of Interactive Learning Research (JILR), Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), 21(3).

Ioannidou, A., Repenning, A., Webb, D., Keyser, D., Luhn, L., & Daetwyler, C. (in press). Mr. Vetro: a Collective Simulation for Teaching Health Science. To appear in the International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (ijCSCL).

Repenning, A., & Ioannidou, A. (2007). Collective Simulations: Teaching Physiology Through Technology-Enhanced Role-Play. Paper presented at the Fifth Interdisciplinary Conference Communication, Medicine & Ethics (COMET 2007), Lugano, Switzerland.

Repenning, A. and A. Ioannidou 2005. Mr. Vetro: A Collective Simulation Framework.ED-Media 2005, World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications, Montreal, Canada, Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education

This work was initially funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant (award number DMI-0232669) .

This work was funded by a National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant (award number 1 R43 RR022008-02).

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