1. Bob Beard
  2. https://csi.asu.edu/people/bob-beard/
  3. Project Manager
  5. Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University ASU
  1. Ed Finn
  2. https://csi.asu.edu/people/ed-finn/
  3. Director
  5. Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University ASU
  1. Peter Nagy
  2. Post Doctoral Researcher
  4. Center for Science and the Imagination
  1. Ruth Wylie
  2. https://isearch.asu.edu/profile/1864819
  3. Assistant Director
  5. Center for Science and the Imagination, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, ASU, Arizona State University ASU

Increasing Learning and Efficacy about Emerging Technologies through Transmed...

NSF Awards: 1516684

2019 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a modern myth; a 200 year-old science-fiction story that explores themes of human creativity, societal responsibility and scientific ethics. Two centuries later, these themes continue to resonate in our technological age. As citizens with access to incredible tools for creation and transformation, we not only need to understand the fundamentals of science and technology, but also to develop the skills to actively participate in the policy discussions that surround these fields. Arizona State University, supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, took on this challenge, pairing Mary Shelley’s compelling Frankenstein narrative with an integrated set of digital and hands-on activities to inspire deeper conversations about scientific and technological creativity and social responsibility.

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Discussion from the 2019 STEM for All Video Showcase (19 posts)
  • Icon for: Bob Beard

    Bob Beard

    Lead Presenter
    Project Manager
    May 12, 2019 | 02:11 p.m.

    Thank you for visiting the Frankenstein200 project. Throughout 2018, we conducted qualitative and quantitative, mixed-methods research through observations and interviews at 17 partner museums around the nation as well as elementary and middle schools around Arizona. Additionally, we studied the interactions of participants in the Frankenstein200 digital experience.We're currently deep in data analysis and excited to share this project here. We're particularly interested to chat with you about storytelling as a method of exploration and inquiry and the implementation of digital and hands-on activities in both formal and informal settings.

  • Icon for: Kenneth Huff

    Kenneth Huff

    Teacher of Science
    May 13, 2019 | 06:13 a.m.

    Pleased to learn that your program is geared toward early adolescent students and that preliminary findings indicate these students have increased efficacy to engage in science.  Do you have plans to scale up your impact with greater numbers of museums throughout the country?  Are there plans to promote the DIY maker activities with a broader parent population?  Thank you.  

  • Icon for: Ed Finn

    Ed Finn

    May 13, 2019 | 01:14 p.m.

    Thanks Kenneth! We do not have plans to fabricate and distribute additional kits right now, but the plans are fully open-source if any museums or other groups would like to build their own, using the facilitator guides here: http://www.nisenet.org/frankensteinkit

    We are definitely interested in promoting the DIY activities to broader populations, especially parents. We are exploring a few different options there but if you have ideas we'd love to hear them!

  • May 13, 2019 | 10:57 a.m.

    Thanks for the interesting concept. When you talked about transmedia experience, did you map the paths people took through the tools and whether different routes resulted in different outcomes. Or possibly, were there preferences in path that could teach us more about types or categories of learners?  Super fun, love to hear more about the back-end path tracking strategy!


  • Icon for: Peter Nagy

    Peter Nagy

    Post Doctoral Researcher
    May 13, 2019 | 02:32 p.m.

    Thank you for your question, John. We designed classroom studies to explore how tool and routes can lead to different learning outcomes.

    We ran studies with three conditions:

    • Transmedia condition: participants engaged in offline (hands-on) and online (online narrative game experience) activities;
    • Hands-on condition: participants only did science hands-on activities; and
    • Online narrative game experience condition: participants only played the online game.

    In the hands-on condition, students created mini-robots (scribblers), patchwork animals (FrankenToys), simple electronic circuits, and automatas (simple mechanical devices). These activities were facilitated by one of our research team members. In the online narrative game experience condition, participants took part in science activities and thought experiments offered through the futuristic Laboratory for Innovation and Fantastical Exploration (L.I.F.E.), founded by Victoria “Tori” Frankenstein. As participants moved deeper into the narrative, they also had the opportunity to shape the storyline and make choices that affect the fates of the characters. In the transmedia condition, students did both hands-on and online activities.

    We did pre- and post tests to measure the impact of conditions on students' science self-efficacy, creativity, identity, and science interest. Our preliminary results suggest (we're still working on the data analysis) that these activities can help students develop a stronger sense of science self-efficacy and a deeper interest in science. In terms of science ethics and responsibility, we found two interesting patterns. On the one hand, hands-on activities allowed students to create physical artifacts and therefore gain a better understanding on the importance of testing, planning, and anticipating potential uses (e.g., creating art, creating new life). The online narrative game experience, on the other hand, enabled students to learn more about how scientists should act ethically. Witnessing Tori Frankenstein's misconduct, our participants realized how important it is to ask for consent, tell the truth, and treat others with respect and dignity. 

    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Bridget Dalton Dalton
  • Icon for: Jena Barchas-Lichtenstein

    Jena Barchas-Lichtenstein

    May 13, 2019 | 08:15 p.m.

    Very cool stuff! Is the game available to play publicly?

    I'm curious to hear more: did the participants who engaged in both do them in a particular order? If they could do either one first, were there differences based on the ordering?

    I'm also curious if there were interactions, such that participants who engaged in both saw stronger effects on either type of learning than those who did just one. 

  • Icon for: Bob Beard

    Bob Beard

    Lead Presenter
    Project Manager
    May 14, 2019 | 12:48 p.m.

    Hi Jena, 

    Thanks! Absolutely, you can play through the experience by taking our personality quiz/self-efficacy pretest at Frankenstein.life. Form there you'll be prompted to register your information and the experience will start soon after.

    The activity kits and the game were deployed into the wild at the beginning of 2018.
    To get an idea of how activities were developed to work alongside each other, take a look at our interview with our local NPR station: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJxcFoXAF2M

    During this period, we also conducted studies at three schools: a public elementary school, a charter K-8 school, and a public middle school. To test the impact of the experience, at each school, we divided students into three groups: hands-on only, online narrative experience only, and transmedia (students did both the hands-on and online narrative experience).

    In each intervention, we pre-tested the students at the beginning of the week and ended the week with a post test. We're still in data analysis, but our initial findings show that those who participated in the transmedia environment, demonstrated an increase in their science self efficacy scores. We're very encouraged by these preliminary results as they demonstrate that learners can develop a stronger science self-efficacy, curiosity, and appreciation for science. Our results also suggest that participants can get new and more concrete
    ideas of what ethical dilemmas scientists face in their work, and what they as science learners can do to resolve those conflicts.

  • Icon for: Christine Cunningham

    Christine Cunningham

    preK-12 Science and Engineering Educator
    May 13, 2019 | 12:48 p.m.

    I love the idea of anchoring your work in a story! This could invite children to make connections between literacy and science/engineering as well as prompting people to think about implications. I’m wondering if you have had ideas about other books or narrative elements (movies/video) that you might use for subsequent projects? What features of stories have you found to be particularly valuable?

  • Icon for: Bob Beard

    Bob Beard

    Lead Presenter
    Project Manager
    May 13, 2019 | 01:50 p.m.

    Thanks, Christine. This is one of our first research projects for young people, but our center has done several narrative projects around science and engineering topics, including a project funded by NASA that imagined near future scenarios in Low Earth Orbit. https://csi.asu.edu/books/vvev/

    We feel that stories are an accessible way for audiences to engage with and explore ideas. The science fiction genre, which traffics in "what if" scenarios is especially useful as it gives permission for audiences to speculate on these technologies and their implications, without needing to have a background in engineering or science. 

    In terms of existing narratives, Frankenstein is hard to beat for the way it has framed popular conceptions of science in society. What makes the novel so useful for our purposes is that it grapples with ideas about creative and responsible innovation. 

    Additionally, I think that comics and graphic novels are great tools for bolstering literacy, communicating with diverse audiences, and creating spaces to discuss complex scientific and social topics in a meaningful and accessible way. We've done a bit on this as well with a sustainability-themed comic, and are always looking to do more!

  • Icon for: Sara Lacy

    Sara Lacy

    Senior Scientist
    May 13, 2019 | 04:26 p.m.

    I like the way you  framed your activities in terms of the thought provoking questions: What is life?, Why do we create?, and  What are our responsibilities as creators, scientists, and engineers? 

    Did the students have an opportunity to collaborate or talk in small or large groups? How did they reflect on the activities and on the relation between the activities and the overarching questions?

    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Rebecca Grella
  • Icon for: Bob Beard

    Bob Beard

    Lead Presenter
    Project Manager
    May 13, 2019 | 06:44 p.m.

    Thank you for your questions, Sara. In our classroom studies, the students usually worked individually but shared materials with each other and were asked to reflect on a number of facilitating questions in large groups after they finished their artifacts. This way students had the opportunity to think about the activities more elaborately and hear their classmates' opinions as well.

    For instance, the scribblebot, one of the our popular hands-on activities, was intended to encourage students to consider the answer to the question, “What does it mean to be alive?” The scribblebot is a simple robot that students created using an electric toothbrush motor, foam pool noodle piece, and markers that would draw designs on the paper. Students in the activity were guided through the creation process and asked to reflect on questions such as “Is your scribbler really alive?”; “Are its scribbles ‘art’? If so, who is the artist-you or your creature?”; and “What if your scribbler turned on by itself and drew on something important? As its creator, would you be responsible?”

    We collected quantitative data from students about their perceptions of the activities. In the case of the scribblebot, students (N=105) generally felt that they could learn new things about science, engineering, responsibility, design, and art. They also rated the scribblebot as a little bit more arts-related than a strictly science-related activity. Together, our results suggest that even simple hands-on activities can help students realize that science has various implications for their daily lives and as scientists they have to take responsibility over their creations.

  • May 13, 2019 | 10:04 p.m.

    What an incredible interdisciplinary approach to science! Thank ASU for sharing your outreach and engagement efforts.  The ethics discussion is important, would love to hear how you weave this into NGSS!

  • Icon for: Bob Beard

    Bob Beard

    Lead Presenter
    Project Manager
    May 14, 2019 | 12:49 p.m.

    Thank you, Rebecca! With Frankenstein200 we focus on the following areas and NGSS outcomes.

    - Engaging in scientific and creative processes

    • NGSS outcome: Disciplinary core ideas—Life science (LS); Earth and space science (ESS); Physical science (PS); Engineering, technology, and the application of science (ETS)

    - Reflecting on Science-in-Society issues

    • NGSS: Appendix J—Science, technology, society, and the environment

    - Collaborating and sharing with others

    •  NGSS: Science and engineering practice

  • May 15, 2019 | 06:44 p.m.

     Fabulous project!  i found the preliminary findings quite interesting, especially in relation to the differential effects of the hands on and online experiences.  I look forward to reading about the final results.

  • Icon for: Bob Beard

    Bob Beard

    Lead Presenter
    Project Manager
    May 17, 2019 | 12:38 p.m.

    Thanks, Bridget! We'll be sharing all of our publications on our web site, https://csi.asu.edu/.

  • Icon for: Kristana Textor

    Kristana Textor

    Graduate Student
    May 16, 2019 | 08:19 p.m.

    Your project is really exciting, and I especially like how you meld the imaginitive nature of science fiction to a science identity. Can you tell us more about the personality/self-efficacy test? What did you build off of for that? What theory will frame your work? Also wondering if there are potential connections to having the students create their own narratives in future projects/collaborations?


  • Icon for: Peter Nagy

    Peter Nagy

    Post Doctoral Researcher
    May 17, 2019 | 10:51 a.m.

    Thank you for your feedback, Kristana! We used Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory to conceptualize self-efficacy for our transmedia project. We followed his guidelines to create a short measure (link: https://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Bandura/BanduraGuide2006.pdf). 

    We chose the Frankenstein story due to its ubiquity and immense popularity. Having students create their own narratives is a great idea for a future research project. For instance, learners could create their own "modern" Frankenstein stories by building on their personal interest and preferences. 

  • Icon for: Michael Rosenfeld

    Michael Rosenfeld

    VP of National Productions
    May 17, 2019 | 10:41 a.m.

    The idea of using the Frankenstein story as a way in to basic questions about science strikes me as both clever and innovative. You are using a literary touchstone to get students thinking in an and interesting and challenging way. In this day and age, when kids know the Frankenstein name but not necessarily the book or the story it tells, did you find that you needed to provide a basic overview of the story, or were most students familiar enough with the narrative to make these connections without help? 

  • Icon for: Bob Beard

    Bob Beard

    Lead Presenter
    Project Manager
    May 17, 2019 | 06:53 p.m.

    Thanks, Michael! In all of our materials, we provided a bit of context for the Frankenstein, sharing that the original story was written 200 years ago by Mary Shelley, and has been retold many times. We'd let them tell us the basic plot, based on whatever frame of reference they were coming from. Most were familiar enough with the story to talk about the relationship between creature and creator, so our role was to draw parallels between the story and the activities (AI, genetic engineering, simple machines, electricity).

    With each intervention, we'd pose reflection questions about why people create, and to consider why it might be important to plan ahead and take responsibility for the things we bring into the world. This allowed them to think about how they could personally learn from and correct the mistakes of the original Victor Frankenstein.


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