Icon for: Robb Lindgren


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Developing Crosscutting Concepts in STEM with Simulation Theaters for Embodie...

NSF Awards: 1441563

2017 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 9-12

ELASTIC3S seeks to create a new genre of technology-enhanced educational interactions by developing "simulation theaters for embodied learning" targeting crosscutting concepts highlighted in the NGSS. Embodied interactions (e.g., hand gestures, whole-body movements) have shown promise for increasing learning in specific STEM concepts, but less is known about how these interactions promote the understanding of abstract and crosscutting ideas such as scale, rates of change, patterns, etc. Using advanced gesture recognition technologies and immersive visualizations, we are attempting to create an expressive environment where students can learn STEM through their intuitive body actions.  


To accomplish our goals, we are working with high school students in rural and small urban areas to understand the natural ways that students use body movement to think about these crosscutting concepts in specific STEM topic areas. For example, we have done interviews with students where they are prompted to use gestures to reason about non-linear scales such as the Richter scale or the pH scale. We are using these interviews to design simulations that use a common gesture scheme and visual representation for exploring diverse STEM topics such as earthquakes and acidity/basicity. Our learning measures are targeted at understanding whether developing a body-based understanding of scale in one topic area facilitates learning in another.


The ultimate aims of ELASTIC3S are to 1) demonstrate the applicability of embodiment to instructional design, and 2) to advance gesture recognition and other body-based interface such that they better accommodate the needs of STEM learning and education.

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