Indiana University researchers are developing a patent-pending tool to help elementary students, including first- and second-graders, understand science concepts like complex systems.
Kylie Peppler, Joshua Danish and Armin Moczek invented BioSim, a system that includes wearable 3D indoor positioning sensors, push toys and puppets. Peppler and Danish are associate professors in the School of Education; Moczek is a professor of biology in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Peppler said BioSim was created to introduce students to the idea of complex systems, which are collections of interdependent and interrelated elements. Students either wear bee puppets on their wrists or play with ant-shaped push toys during class. They take the perspective of the insect when they use the toys in the classroom.
"Their goal is to collect food as efficiently as possible and communicate with the community to make sure others can also collect food efficiently. There's lots of smiling, giggling, exclaiming and collaborating," Peppler said. "At other times, the students watch simulations on a projection screen, pointing out things they are noticing and explaining why they are happening."