[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most of today's students are skilled in instant messaging, Web browsing, online games, and blogs. These have become part of the social landscape and have changed how we learn and where we learn. The question becomes how to harness the attractiveness and ubiquity of electronic venues toward the goal of teaching neuroscience. At the Rice University Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning, a central focus is the creation of innovative materials that appeal to middle school students. A recent project was undertaken through a Science Education Drug Abuse Partnership Award (R25 DA15063) from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to inform adolescents about the neurobiology of substance abuse and the current research dealing with a class of drugs known as club drugs. Problem-based learning, multimedia pedagogy, and the National Science Content Standards were integrated to produce The Reconstructors, an episodic series available via the World Wide Web at http://reconstructors.rice.edu. A field test of students from five schools assessed the retention of content after "playing" The Reconstructors series titled Nothing to Rave About. Gain scores indicated that middle school students' knowledge about club drugs and the basic neuroscience concepts that explain their effects improved significantly.
CBE life sciences education 02/2006; 5(2):137-43. · 1.19 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: New technological and cultural developments surrounding adolescents' use of the World Wide Web offer an opportunity for turning aspects of the Internet gaming phenomenon to the advantage of neuroscience education. Specifically, an experimental project to transmit aspects of problem-based learning and the National Science Standards through an interactive Web adventure is reported here. The Reconstructors is an episodic Web-based adventure series entitled Medicinal Mysteries from History. It is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the first series focuses on opioids. It was created with the input of middle school students and teachers. Through the use of multimedia technologies, middle school students enter a futuristic world in which they become "reconstructors," members of an elite scientific unit charged with recovering lost medical knowledge about analgesic drugs. Two of the four episodes have been evaluated through a comprehensive review process involving middle school students, teachers, neuroscience researchers, and clinicians. Analysis of the pretest and posttest scores demonstrated significant knowledge gain that validly can be attributed to use of the game. These data provide evidence that science content can be transmitted through innovative online techniques without sacrificing compelling content or effective pedagogical strategies.
The Neuroscientist 03/2002; 8(1):16-21. · 5.63 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Describes the development and use of a web site designed to engage middle school students in problem-based learning while addressing science education standards related to cell biology, technology, social aspects of science, and the nature and history of science. Students learn about naturally occurring opiates as they solve a mystery and conduct a virtual experiment. Presents guidelines for using the web site. (DLH)