Wednesday, January 31, 2007

CyberSurgeons: Serious Games For Learning How To Save A Life

Providing a way for high school students to apply science knowledge


High school students will work in a virtual trauma unit to help save a researcher who has taken ill thousands of miles away in the Amazon basin of Ecuador thanks to a grant received today by the Center for Educational Technologies®.

The $1.25 million Science Education Partnership Award to fund the development of the CyberSurgeons live simulation over five years is one of just 11 granted by the National Center for Research Resources, a part of the National Institutes of Health. The awards total nearly $11.5 million.

The CyberSurgeons distance learning simulation will provide an authentic way for high school students to apply science knowledge they learn in school. To complete the mission, students will become part of a fictional CyberSurgeons remote trauma unit on a ship that’s one of a fleet of rapid-response trauma units headquartered in Washington, D.C. Their ship will be equipped with a high-tech hospital and medical research capabilities, state-of-the-art high-end communications systems, and dedicated satellites to relay information.


The mission will be conducted through a videoconference hookup from the students’ classroom to the Center for Educational Technologies. Before the live simulation students will learn how to analyze and apply simple datasets to authentic problems.

On mission day students will connect live for about 75 minutes with the chief medical officer, played by a professional educator at the Center for Educational Technologies. In the scenario the chief medical officer will receive an alert from a research station in the Amazon basin in Ecuador. A researcher there is in medical distress, possibly from a reaction to plants the individual has been collecting as possible treatments for cancer and AIDS. The students will play the role of trauma experts. In real time they will diagnose and recommend treatment for the illness and then follow up to make certain the treatment worked.

The students will use an array of tools during the mission, including a 3-D view of the body to access a database that links symptoms, possible conditions, and test results.

The Science Education Partnership Awards projects are designed to inform the public about health issues, foster science literacy, and encourage students to consider careers in the health sciences.


Science Education Partnership Awards programs reach out to students in rural and underserved communities by funding K-12 classroom activities as well as science centers and museum exhibits across the country. In the initial three-year phase partnerships are formed among biomedical and clinical researchers, educators, community groups, and other interested organizations to create programs that provide a better understanding of scientific research. In a second, two-year phase the curricula are broadly disseminated. This round of 11 grants brings the Science Education Partnership Awards portfolio to 72 active projects that span the country.