Digital Worlds Institute unveiled its HAPNAN project, an innovative and educational tool that merges haptics, the sense of touch, with nanotechnology at Harn Museum’s “Art in Engineering” event on Thursday, October 11. This technology revolutionizes the way science is taught in the classroom by bringing abstract concepts like gravity, attraction, resistance and repulsion to life.
Visitors had the opportunity to get hands on experience with the haptic mouse, allowing them to get a sense of what haptics feels like.
Dr. Curtis Taylor, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Nanotechnology expert, and Dr. James Oliverio, Director and Professor at Digital Worlds Institute, demonstrated their research and this new technology at the event.
“This is the culmination of a two-year project to enhance learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics through haptics and gaming funded by the National Science Foundation,” said Taylor.
Digital Worlds graduate students have worked side by side with faculty and professional staff to help create the various levels, 3D models and environments featured in the HAPNAN experience.
The haptic mouse is under $250 and can be hooked up to any modern PC to get the full HAPNAN experience. This also includes a built-in testing module that allows teachers to measure individual student progress.
“Nano technology is going to be very big in the 21st century - no joke!” said Oliverio. “In the United States we need to do everything possible to interest our young students in science and technology, so using this video game format to introduce nanotechnology is a compelling way to interest them in middle school. We hope that this interest will then expand as they move into high school and college, producing more a technologically sophisticated and capable workforce in this country.”
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