Bertrand Schneider, Jenelle Wallace, Roy Pea, and Paulo Blikstein. 2012. BrainExplorer: an innovative tool for teaching neuroscience. In Proceedings of the 2012 ACM international conference on Interactive tabletops and surfaces (ITS ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 407-410.
Neuroscience has recently brought many insights into the inner workings of the human brain. The way neuroscience is taught, however, has lagged behind and still relies on direct instruction or textbooks. We argue that the spatial nature of the brain makes it an ideal candidate for hands-on activities coupled with a tangible interface. In this paper we introduce BrainExplorer, a learning environment for teaching neuroscience. BrainExplorer allows users to explore neural pathways on a custom tabletop platform. We conducted an evaluation with 28 participants comparing students who learned neuroscience content through using BrainExplorer with students who learned by reading a textbook chapter. We found that our system promotes learning along 3 dimensions: memorizing scientific terminology, understanding a dynamic system, and transferring knowledge to a new situation.