Personalized Sensor‐based Digital Media Simulations for Biology and Health Education

  • Abstract

    In this SBIR project, we present LifeGames, a set of sensor-enabled, multimodal, NGSS aligned, validated formative assessment games for biology and health education. Our emphasis will be on high engagement, deeper learning of the heart and cardiovascular function and diseases, and valid formative feedback to guide next steps for teachers and to allow student to assess themselves.

    US science education, in general, is facing critical challenges in terms of global competitiveness and workforce development. When it comes to biology and health-education, lack of education further exacerbates the situation by placing a heavy economic burden on the U.S. taxpayer in excess of estimated $200 billion per year. Estimated 36% of US adults have limited health literacy skills (HL) such as the ability to “evaluate information for quality,” “interpret test results,” and “analyze relative risks and benefits” (

    Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which have been designed to address these challenges, call for major changes in instruction, curriculum and assessment, with assessment being the driver. Availability of engaging and valid formative assessment games with a strong professional development program will facilitate NGSS implementation, learning outcomes and foster health literacy (HL). It will also positively impact teachers’ content knowledge and effectiveness.

    In this project, SimInsights, UC Irvine and Tufts University will work together to develop novel personalized games, integrate them into a the Great Diseases biology curriculum developed by Tufts, and rigorously validate them through classroom testing in Massachusetts and California. The proposed project combines the development of the following:

    1. a novel mobile sensor platform for inexpensive biosensing leveraging the sensors available on mobile devices such as camera;
    2. an initial set of up to 3 games focusing on the heart and cardiovascular diseases; and
    3. a modular extensible framework for development of future games for high school NGSS biology and health education topics.

    Public Health Relevance: LifeGames, a set of sensor-enabled, multimodal, NGSS aligned games will deeply engage students in studying biology and motivate them to pursue biomedical careers. US science education is facing critical challenges in terms of global competitiveness and workforce development. Furthermore, low health literacy also contributes to a burden of $200 billion per year to the US taxpayer. By making it easier to implement NGSS and by enhancing students’ health literacy skills, LifeGames will help address these challenges, while greatly reducing the cost of sensors and expanding availability of games to the vast underserved population in the US.

Project Audience

K–12 teachers and their students

Subjects Addressed

Life science, biology, health, assessment,