Student Engagement Gets High Tech and Physical

'Embodied Learning' Blends Movement, Computer Interaction
I loved this story so much I had to share.  Go to the link to read the entire story.





Zachary Benedek usually can't wait for science class to be over. But when he learns about concepts like light and gravity in a 15-square-foot digitally enhanced laboratory called the SMALLab, he doesn't want the period to end.

Waving a wand in front of colors and circles projected on the floor of the lab, he and his classmates worked together recently to blend colors in a unit on the electromagnetic spectrum for science class.

"It's a lot more fun. You get it, and when you do it with your hands, it seems a lot simpler," said Zachary, a 6th grader at Elizabeth Forward Middle School in Elizabeth, Pa.

Last month, the school built one of the nation's first "embodied learning" labs, a technological platform that combines learning sciences and human-computer interaction by incorporating students' body movements into the lesson. For example, a student learning about chemistry would be able to grab and combine molecules in a virtual flask projected on a floor mat through the use of motion-capture cameras that sense movement and body position.

'Embodied Learning'


The basic idea behind embodied learning is that students who fully use their bodies to learn are more engaged in the lesson than they would be simply sitting at a desk or computer. The SMALLab, or Situated Multimedia Arts Learning Lab, was developed by Arizona State University professors and aims to incorporate blended learning into traditional classroom lessons with the help of educational technology.

On the surface, the SMALLab seems similar to Microsoft's Kinect, a camera peripheral sold as an attachment to the XBOX 360 video-game platform that is now being used in some classrooms. But while Microsoft's motion-capture gaming technology is typically used for physical education and special education, the SMALLab hosts lessons in core subjects like math and science.

Different ways of engaging students is really critical to the concept.

The SMALLab runs scenarios that students can play using their bodies and images displayed on surfaces throughout the lab. Graduate students from the entertainment-technology program at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh partnered with Elizabeth Forward's teachers to develop the scenarios and are in the process of developing more for the platform.

The SMALLab's scenarios allow teachers to focus on particular concepts within subject material. While many of the lessons deal with learning in the stem subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—Mr. Birchfield cited a scenario that involves students' bodies symbolically filling in for a character in a novel. If they want to access information about their characters' thought processes, for example, students tap their own heads, or for content about characters' emotions, they touch their own hearts.


My favorite part of this story: 

When you give students a chance to get out of their seats, they really seem to enjoy the lessons.  


See the rest of the story.  http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/10/10/07embody.h32.html?tkn=XTCFZeOhcjyo2cglia%2FIFantGiPRoJR1qW%2FK&cmp=clp-sb-ascd

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