An important area of STEM education involves improving math and science literacies at the pre-kindergarten (pre-K) level. Young children have the natural capacity to explore and understand STEM concepts in everyday life, and learning these early skills affects later development. Although there is a growing use of tablet computers in both formal and informal educational settings, little is known about how tablets support learning, particularly in STEM. One argument against purely digital content on a tablet computer, however, is that tactile cues and sensory experiences important for STEM learning are now lost. This project examines whether the emerging technology of haptic — or tactile feedback — touch-screen displays can improve preschoolers’ learning of science concepts. The PIs will conduct human-centered design of new haptic science learning applications, which will involve preschool STEM education experts in the creation of these novel materials and two large-scale laboratory experiments that will assess the effectiveness of haptic feedback in tablet-based learning. Results will contribute new knowledge of (1) how to design educational media leveraging surface haptic displays and (2) the conditions under which this technology effectively promotes learning and engagement among young children.
This project is conducted in collaboration with Anne Marie Piper and the Inclusive Technology Lab.
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