RAPT Lab: Representations, Activity, Play, and Technology Lab

Projects: Science through Technology Enhanced Play (STEP)

In the Science through Technology Enhanced Play (STEP) project, we are investigating how embodied play among elementary school students can be used to help them understand scientific phenomena (e.g., the working of forces, complex behaviors of bees). Our most recent application is called GEM-STEP where the GEM stands for Generalized Embodied Modeling. This system allows users to create and implement any embodied model they can imagine with embodiment / motion tracking.

You can see some of the models we’ve made on our examples page on the embodied play website.

Below is an image of a recent implementation of our most recent version, GEM-STEP, in action. Here you can see children in the classroom pretending to be fish. As they do this, the GEM-STEP system tracks their locations using tags on their hats and uses that information to control fish in the simulation at the bottom of the image. This simulation is then projected for the students to see as they play. In this activity, the students are exploring how the fish in a pond ecosystem are dependent on the algae for survival, and how the algae are in-turn dependent on the sun. Our theoretical framework for embodied learning (Danish et al., 2020) highlights how youth learn in this kind of activity by attending to both their individual embodied experience of moving around, and their social, collective experience of coordinating their movement as they explore this system.

Image of children in a classroom  using GEM-STEP and the GEM-STEP screen

This video illustrates using the STEP-BEES platform:

Funding for the the iterations of the STEP Project

Grant Name Funding Agency Grant Number Co-PIs
Generalized Embodied Modeling to support Science through Technology Enhanced Play NSF 1908632 & 1908791 Joshua Danish, Noel Enyedy, Corey Brady
DIP: Interactive Science through Technology Enhanced (ISTEP) NSF 1628918 Joshua Danish, Noel Enyedy
EXP: Promoting Learning through Annotation of Embodiment (PLAE) NSF 1522945 Joshua Danish, Noel Enyedy
DIP: The Science Through Technology Enhanced Play (STEP) NSF 1323767 Joshua Danish, Noel Enyedy

Publications on the STEP Project