“To make science accessible, we need to do more than simply tell students what it is we discovered. We need to help them discover it for themselves,” says Michael Kasumovic, associate professor and founder of startup tech company Arludo, which uses gaming technologies to help students experience what it’s like to think and behave like practising scientists.
At the University of New South Wales, based in Sydney, Kasumovic recognised the need to boost essential STEMM skills through a shift from lecture-based learning to a practice-based model, and developed an app library that turns smartphones into science equipment. The mobile apps and 25 games are already being used internationally and at Australian universities – including UNSW – in subjects including biology, ecology, evolution, animal behaviour, maths and chemistry.
“Students are more likely to excel in science when they see themselves enjoying thinking through scientific problems,” says Kasumovic.
Accessible science on the go
The premise is that by using mobile phones, science can be accessible by students anywhere, at any time. STEMM engagement is improved through encouraging students to appreciate science by making students active participants in their science experience. “Almost all of our students carry around a mobile phone with them,” says Kasumovic. “These devices are essential to their life but are also powerful computers that can be transformed into a piece of scientific equipment.”
There are plans to get students more involved making hands-on science through YouTube Live where students can make live comments as scientists are interviewed in real time. Collected results can be discussed, thereby bridging gaps between students and scientists anywhere in the world.