In the Loop
Faculty News : Dec 11, 2015

Oak Hall students visit DW for Experimental Learning Experience

By Frances Verjano

At the invitation of Digital Worlds professor Angelos Barmpoutis, two groups of 20 fifth grade students from Oak Hall School visited the Digital Worlds Institute on Nov. 19 and 20, 2015, as part of a preliminary study looking into experimental learning.

The study, Exploring Kinesthetic Systems for Enhancing Elementary Math Education, builds upon an interactive curriculum developed and applied by the late teacher Gloria Merriex in Duval Elementary School in Gainesville. Merriex was best known for implementing an innovative teaching mechanism to successfully assist children in learning 5th grade math through movement and music.

“The purpose of this project was to create a learning experience, using Microsoft Kinect, where students could use different gestures, such as creating obtuse or acute angles, to memorize math concepts through kinesthetic mnemonics,” Barmpoutis said.

The game was dressed using assets of “Exploring Ancient Egypt,” an interactive game created by DW faculty and staff that allows up to four simultaneous players to explore various scenarios based on themes inspired by ancient Egypt.

Before the experiment, students completed a questionnaire measuring their existing knowledge of fifth-grade math, and completed a similar exit survey to determine what they learned. The preliminary data collected will support an upcoming National Science Foundation (NSF) grant proposal that will be submitted by the Digital Worlds Institute to further extend this study.

Barmpoutis said the interactive game required the participation of four students at a time, and allowed each group to explore additional interactive technologies used at Digital Worlds, several of which are used to record live motion data from users and then to translate it into actionable data that allows for a 3D recreation of the performance.

During both visits, students had the opportunity of using a haptic mouse part of the previously NSF-funded HAPNAN project, experimenting with the virtual reality system Oculus Rift, trying the finger-motion trackpad LEAP Motion, and moving inside the Organic Motion Capture System.  

The purpose and content of the study at Digital Worlds was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the University of Florida, and all required parental consent for participating students was obtained prior to the on-site visit.