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“Explanation and Embodiment in Middle School Students’ Development of Explanatory Models of Molecular Ideas”

Champaign , USA

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Speaker Information:

Nitasha Mathayas and David Brown
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

With research showing that gesturing while speaking can facilitate learning, it is worth investigating how motion sensing technology can leverage gesturing about complex scientific phenomena. In project GRASP, we investigate the role that gestures play in constructing explanations about critical concepts in science. Specifically we work with middle school students to help us understand how moving their hands can help them explain things such as what causes air pressure and how does heat transfer in metals. We are also creating new computer simulations that can respond to students’ gestures and allow students to become part of the simulation!

For this brownbag session, we have decided to take a "workshop" approach, and give everyone the opportunity to interact with our simulation designs and share feedback. In this workshop, you will explore simulations depicting heat transfer and air pressure, and demonstrate learning opportunities from these simulations. We will also show you ways students have engaged with these simulations and discuss interactions that point to new ways of teaching science through simulations. We believe that this “hands in” approach to learning will provide new opportunities for students to learn complex ideas and construct new explanations.

GRASP is a NSF-funded collaboration between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Concord Consortium. (GestuRe Augmented Simulations for supporting exPlanations).


Liz Stine-Morrow


Educational Psychology CSTL Division