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Icon for: James Lester


North Carolina State University, Center for Educational Informatics

The Leonardo Project

NSF Awards: 1020229

2015 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6

The Leonardo Project is designing, developing and investigating an intelligent cyberlearning system for interactive scientific modeling in elementary science education. Students in Grades 4 and 5 are using Leonardo’s intelligent virtual science notebooks to create and experiment with interactive models of science phenomena. As students design, test, and share their models, Leonardo’s intelligent virtual assistants engage them in meaning-making exchanges in which students interactively devise explanations and make predictions. With a curricular focus on the physical sciences, Leonardo scaffolds students’ modeling experiences with advice and explanations that are tailored to individual problem-solving episodes.

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Discussion from the 2015 Teaching & Learning Video Showcase (12 posts)
  • Icon for: Amie Patchen

    Amie Patchen

    May 11, 2015 | 12:23 p.m.

    This looks like a cool system and a useful way to let students manipulate variables or try out things that would be hard to do with physical pieces. Could you describe a little how it is implemented in classrooms? Is it instead of or in addition to building models with physical materials? There’s one shot in the video of a student connecting wires to something… just wondering how the physical and digital pieces are integrated? Thanks!

  • Eric (co-PI)

    May 13, 2015 | 09:44 a.m.

    We gave a lot of thought as to how to have both physical and virtual labs work together to facilitate engagement and learning. We tried to balance the affordances of each environment against logistical, time and cost issues. As a general strategy, we tried to have students move between exploring physical, ‘human-scale’ phenomena to virtual simulations that allowed students to explore the same phenomena at a more abstract representational level of the ‘invisible’ elements of the phenomena.

  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    May 11, 2015 | 10:07 p.m.

    Great video. I didn’t think this would work without any spoken words… but it does! You got me interested. Thanks.

  • Icon for: Kathy Perkins

    Kathy Perkins

    May 12, 2015 | 12:48 a.m.

    Thanks. I want to be able to take it for a test drive to see how it works.
    Clearly students are engaged, and teachers are finding it useful. Have you done any research around its impact on student learning of these concepts?

  • Eric (co-PI)

    May 13, 2015 | 09:51 a.m.

    We’ve explored learning at a number levels. We analyze pre-post multiple choice tests for all students. For a smaller number of students, we’ve done close analysis of student artifacts. For written constructed responses, we’ve analyzed the quality of scientific concepts and argumentation (claims and evidence). Drawings have been analyzed against a rubric of key concepts. We’ve also investigated the distribution of conceptual knowledge between writing and drawing. Happy to share some of our papers with you.

  • Icon for: Beth Sanzenbacher

    Beth Sanzenbacher

    Middle Science Instructional Leader
    May 12, 2015 | 01:11 a.m.

    This looks like a great tool to help younger students see and play with more abstract and difficult scientific consents. Also, I love the integration of digital and real-world bulling components – essential for young learned to stay engaged with a project and see the outcomes of their learning!

    A comment by a student in your video piqued my interest. “I like how we can experiment and at the end it tells you id you are right…”. The immediate feedback in this program is important, but I am wondering if there is a way to incorporate ambiguity into the system? Students are often focused on finding the one “right” answer. It can be a struggle to help them to understand that more often than not there are many right answers or your definition of “right” can change based on the circumstances. Do you think this program could help support this?

  • Eric (co-PI)

    May 13, 2015 | 10:45 a.m.

    Your question is a great one and at the heart of the intelligent tutoring system design and development work being done by the Computer Science investigators on the project. What you’ve noted is a baseline ‘right/wrong’ response from the digital assistant. While appropriate in some cases and contexts, hints and encouragement that don’t provide a direct answer is more appropriate in others (as an example). This is an area of active R&D for our larger research group.

  • Icon for: Beth Sanzenbacher

    Beth Sanzenbacher

    Middle Science Instructional Leader
    May 13, 2015 | 10:58 p.m.

    I am eager to hear of your findings!

  • Icon for: Tammy Pirmann

    Tammy Pirmann

    K-12 Coordinator
    May 12, 2015 | 02:24 p.m.

    The video showcased building a circuit, a topic near and dear to my Comp Sci background, however, what are some of the other experiments children can do with Leonardo?

  • Eric (co-PI)

    May 13, 2015 | 11:09 a.m.

    Our three units are targeting physical science in 4th and 5th grade: Energy and Electricity, Magnetism, and Air and Weather. Common threads through two or more of the units are big ideas around particulate nature of matter and energy, and the scientific practices of modeling and argumentation.

  • Grichting

    May 13, 2015 | 11:33 a.m.

    What is the cost to use the program?

  • Eric (co-PI)

    May 13, 2015 | 11:50 a.m.

    Free! but you do need to interface with our team to get registered.
    First, go to the iTunes app (not the website, which is generally terrible) and search for ‘CyberPad’. Once you find it in the iTunes AppStore, you can right click and copy the link, which is:
    Next, follow the directions when you launch the app to contact our group to get registered.

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.