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UX SHEEN - TOP

Research on Augmented Reality (AR) technologies for STEM education

Role:          Researcher, Developer, Presenter

Timeline:     March 2019 - May 2020

Tags:           User Research, User Interview, Software Development

Tools:          Unity Game Engine, C#, Android OS, Vuforia, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Slides,
                     Dropbox 

Detail:         Research and mobile application development as part of NASA Space Grant Consortium

                     and National Science Foundation UNY Innovation Crops STEM Marketing

UX SHEEN - INTRO

Introduction

A middle school student testing the beta version of Sheen AR application for STEM education

The Sheen project, which I led as an undergraduate at West Virginia University Institute of Technology, combined innovation and education by using Augmented Reality (AR) technology to enhance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) learning. Supported by NASA's West Virginia Space Grant Consortium (NASA WVSGC) and National Science Foundation UNY Innovation Corps
(NSF UNIY I-Corps) STEM Marketing, my goal was to transform classroom learning. Over the course of a year, I developed several Android AR apps designed to improve STEM education for K-12 (Kindergarten to Twelfth grade High School) students.

Extension and Collaborations

 

The initial success of the Sheen project secured ongoing support from the NASA WVSGC, which provided funding for my role as a student researcher and covered software subscriptions, allowing me to sustain and expand the efforts. A significant development was the project's inclusion in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) UNY I-Corps STEM marketing program. This prestigious program offered essential mentorship and guidance, helping me to navigate audience analysis and market fit. It equipped me with the necessary tools and knowledge for conducting in-depth interviews and data collection in various educational settings.

Problem Statement

 

Traditional teaching methods often struggle to engage K-12 students in complex STEM subjects like Biology and Chemistry. My interviews found a gap: many teachers hesitate to adopt new technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) due to unfamiliarity, while students are eager to use them. This highlights the need for more immersive and accessible teaching tools that cater to both teachers and students.

Purpose & Audience

 

This initiative aimed to enhance traditional STEM education by introducing Augmented Reality (AR) as a teaching tool, focusing on Biology and Chemistry for K-12 students. Future expansions are planned to include engineering and mechanics, broadening the STEM curriculum. Initially designed for Android, plans are in place to extend support to iOS. Sheen aims to support a diverse audience, from young learners to advanced students and educators seeking innovative methods.

A model of DNA structure as seen within the beta AR application. Users could take the device which was running the application through the model for an in-depth look.

Interviews & User Feedback

 

The NSF UNY I-Corps program enabled me to gather insights from stakeholders like high school students, special education teachers, and online instructors. This feedback revealed mixed reactions among educators towards adopting AR, with some hesitant due to unfamiliarity while others found it revolutionary, particularly in special and online education settings. Students were broadly excited about AR, especially those who tested my beta versions of the Android application at in-state science fairs. This valuable feedback is shaping the project's ongoing development.

UX SHEEN - INTERVIES

A model of the globe projected on the AR marker on the paper.

Research Milestones

 

This case study includes a detailed research paper on the Sheen project, which discusses the methodologies, results, and future research opportunities. This paper is more than academic—it's a guide for educators and technologists exploring the integration of AR in STEM education.

Additionally, the Sheen project has received academic acclaim, being presented at the American Society for Engineering Education 2020 conference, winning first place at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering STEM awards, and featuring in West Virginia Science and Research magazine.

Awards:

  • Research project presented during International Annual American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) 2020 Virtual/Montréal Conference

  • NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium (NASA WVSGC) Undergraduate Fellowship

  • 1st place Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) West Virginia Section STEM Awards

  • Project accepted for National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps short course program, STEM marketing

  • Third place during West Virginia University Launch Lab “Is there an app for that?” App based business competition & during West Virginia University Institute of Technology Launch Lab "Campus-wide Pitch" Event


Press Releases:

  • Greenbrier Valley Quarterly Magazine                                                                   March 2020

  • West Virginia University Institute of Technology online news section                 June 2019

  • West Virginia Science & Research                                                                           June 2019

  • Mountain Messenger Newspaper                                                                           July 2019

  • The Fayette Tribune Newspaper                                                                             July 2019

  • Featured on The Neuron, West Virginia Science and Research magazine                (Summer 2019 Edition)

UX SHEEN - RESEARCH

Results & Future Steps

 

The Sheen project prototypes, developed with Unity Game Engine and Vuforia, were highly praised in tests. Students especially liked the immersive aspect of virtually interacting with science models, and a math instructor found the 3D graphs more useful than traditional 2D ones.

Initially focusing on technology and usability, the project’s next phase will explore user experience and interface design. Despite my graduation from the undergraduate program, the groundwork laid by the Sheen project paves the way for continued research and development.

UX SHEEN - RESULTS

↓ View the final research paper presented below

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