Digital Zoo

Before Shrek could storm the halls of the castle and before Mr. Incredible could save the next generation of Supers, teams of engineers were hard at work bringing these characters to life. Muscle by muscle, engineers literally built these heroes from the ground up, starting with wire-frame models.

In Digital Zoo, students become biomechanical engineers who design virtual creatures, learning about physics and engineering along the way.

Digital Zoo was developed from an earlier prototype, Berta’s Tower, with which we investigated the effectiveness of SodaConstructor as a game engine. SodaConstructor is a virtual spring-mass modeling environment developed by Soda Creative.

You can learn more about Digital Zoo in How Computer Games Help Children Learn.

 

Further Reading

Svarovsky, G. (2009) Unpacking the digital zoo: An analysis of the learning processes within an engineering epistemic game. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Nulty, A. & Shaffer, D.W. (2008). Digital Zoo: The effects of mentoring on young engineers. Paper presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences. Utrecht, Netherlands.

Svarovsky, G. & Shaffer, D.W. (2007). SodaConstructing knowledge through exploratoids. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 44(1): 133-153.

Svarovsky, G.N. & Shaffer, D.W. (2006). Design meetings and design notebooks as tools for reflection in the engineering design course. Paper presented at the ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference. San Diego, CA.

Svarovsky, G.N. & Shaffer, D.W. (2006). Sodaconstructing an understanding of physics: Technology-based engineering activities for middle school students. Paper presented at the ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference. San Diego, CA.

Svarovsky, G.N. & Shaffer, D.W. (2006). Engineering girls gone wild: Developing an engineering identity in Digital Zoo. Poster presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences. Bloomington, IN.

Svarovsky. G.N. & Shaffer, D.W. (2006). Berta’s Tower: Developing conceptual physics understanding one exploratoid at a time. Paper presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences. Bloomington, IN.

Svarovsky, G.N., & Shaffer, D.W. (2004). Berta’s Tower: Understanding physics through virtual engineering. Paper presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences. Santa Monica, CA.

Svarovsky, G., and Shaffer, D.W. (2003). Berta’s Tower: An expert-novice study investigating ideas in the domain of physics and the practice of engineering. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Chicago, IL.