2 Oct

Education Coordinator Aniketa Shinde will be giving an oral presentation at the Fall Materials Research Society Meeting in Boston, MA on November 28.
The talk is entitled “Making Nanoscience Accessible through Haptics” and is part of Symposium ZZ: Communicating Social Relevancy in Materials Science and Engineering Education

November 28, 2:30 PM – Abstract ZZ5.05

Making Nanoscience Accessible through Haptics
A. Shinde, M. Darrah, M. Kassar,
West Virginia University
Information Research Corporation

Information Research Corporation and eTouchSciences, based in Fairmont, WV, are currently developing software applications for a haptics device. The Novint Falcon, a rugged, low-cost haptic controller, provides high-fidelity, three-dimensional force feedback with a controller that moves right /left, forwards/backwards, and up/down. When a user holds the Falcon’s grip and moves a cursor to interact with a virtual object, motors in the device turn on and are updated approximately 1000 times per second, letting them feel haptic effects such as texture, shape, weight, dimension, and dynamics. The Falcon provides control and interaction with a virtual environment in a realistic way. The eTouchSciences software apps provide a 3-D environment that presents meaningful educational experiences in middle school level subjects including chemistry, biology, mathematics, nanoscience, physics, earth sciences, life sciences, and astronomy. Audio and high resolution graphic feedback accompanies the tactile feedback to provide students with a rich multi-modal experience that is exciting and effective for all students, but especially those with low vision or who are blind.
Two nanoscience apps currently under development by a summer undergraduate researcher will focus on introducing i) the concept of nanoscale and ii) forms of carbon. Forms of carbon will introduce the student to the different crystal structures of carbon (graphite and diamond) and how this relates to macroscopic physical properties. The student will also be able to construct a carbon nanotube out of one layer of graphite.

Student using Novint Falcon and Atom application

This project will culminate in Spring 2013 with one-day training for middle school teachers in West Virginia to learn about the device and apps. Teachers will receive a device and will be able to provide feedback and suggest new ideas for applications. Ultimately, teachers, developers, students and other educators will participate in an online forum and store in order to buy/sell/develop applications for use with a Novint Falcon device.

Funding is provided by US Department of Education SBIR FastTrack Contract #ED-IES-11-C-0028 (MD), West Virginia University STEM SURE program (MK), West Virginia Space Grant Consortium K-12 Professional and Curriculum Development Program grant (teacher training), and NSF Cooperative Agreement 1003907 (AS).