10 November 2017

Abingdon has been working with the University of Reading and King’s College London for the past two years on a research project that is investigating the use of haptics in science education. Haptics is defined as the science of touch, but more recently it has been applied to computer interfaces that can 'display' shape and permit manipulation. The research focuses on hands-on science education whereby small groups of students manipulate the objects or materials they are studying. This project is looking at manipulating molecules and investigating the movement of substances across a cell membrane. This week, Professor William Harwin brought in his team from Reading with their haptic devices and virtual reality headsets for a group of third year boys to trial. Prior to donning the VR headsets, the boys were quizzed on their pre-test knowledge of cell biology and carried out fine dexterity tests by the team from King’s. The boys working together in pairs were very engrossed in the VR section of the trial and enjoyed moving molecules around their virtual cell. Following this they were quizzed again to see how their knowledge of cell biology had changed after using the haptics. Initial feedback from the boys was overwhelmingly positive. They had a lot of fun and seemed certain that the experience had cemented their understanding. The best quote​ heard was “I would even come in on a Saturday to learn with haptics” before adding that the cookies on offer were also an incentive! The trial will continue with further opportunities for boys to try out the haptic devices later in the academic year. Click here for more information about the research.

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