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Award Abstract #1315412

SBIR Phase I: Contemporary Studies of the Zombie Apocalypse: An Online Game to Teach Mathematical Thinking to Middle School Students

Div Of Industrial Innovation & Partnersh
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Initial Amendment Date: May 29, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: May 29, 2013
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Award Number: 1315412
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Glenn H. Larsen
IIP Div Of Industrial Innovation & Partnersh
ENG Directorate For Engineering
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Start Date: July 1, 2013
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End Date: December 31, 2013 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $150,000.00
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Investigator(s): Maria Droujkova maria@naturalmath.com (Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Triad Interactive Media
1601 Guilford College Road
Jamestown, NC 27282-9383 (336)908-5884
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Program Reference Code(s): 5371, 8031, 8039, 8043, 9177
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Program Element Code(s): 5371


The innovation uses game-based learning to increase the mathematical knowledge, mathematical thinking, and mathematical performance of middle school students. The problems being addressed are that average test scores of U.S. middle school students on international tests are low, and many students are unable to apply math to everyday problems. The innovation, entitled Contemporary Studies of the Zombie Apocalypse: An Online Game to Teach Mathematical Thinking to Middle School Students, is a Web-based action-adventure, narrative-based, role-playing game where the player defends against zombies in an effort to save the human race. The distinguishing features of Contemporary Studies of the Zombie Apocalypse are game design, computer-adapted differentiated instruction, and high production value. Relying on Cognitive Load and Multimedia Learning theories, the innovation scaffolds connections among situated, concrete math metaphors and abstract, formal, academic mathematics. Other features include scaffolding of instruction, instant feedback, video tutorials, Common Core alignment, mobile accessibility, and a backend administrative dashboard for viewing performance data. The game can be integrated into any math curriculum and is textbook neutral, scalable, accessible online, and designed for repeat playability. Phase I includes a prototype of three mathematical thinking mini-games that will be tested with approximately 80 middle school students.

The broader/commercialization impact of Contemporary Studies of the Zombie Apocalypse: An Online Game to Teach Mathematical Thinking to Middle School Students, lies in its unique integration of procedural and conceptual mathematics with an eye to the development of math as a way of thinking. There are currently no comparable math games in the market. Some games focus on exercises and memorization of procedures, but never find out what formal mathematics means. Others focus on solving situated puzzles without abstracting or formalizing math in-game, so learners do not "package" that knowledge to take it into other contexts. Contemporary Studies of the Zombie Apocalypse addresses this void. It is a supplementary instructional activity, available on both Web and mobile platforms, aligned with Common Core Standards, featuring an easy-to-use dashboard for viewing and tracking performance. Its scalable online design is conducive to distribution through multiple channels and to competitive pricing structures. There are 11,927,000 middle schoolers and literally millions of students exiting school without the ability to apply mathematics knowledge and skills to real-world tasks. Contemporary Studies of the Zombie Apocalypse can significantly improve student procedural and conceptual understanding, leading toward better attitudes toward math and ultimately to competence as a mathematical thinker.


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