This paper traces the research-design-develop-test cycle of a haptically-enhanced science simulation designed to teach upper-elementary students core ideas about matter, phase change, and the role of intermolecular forces. We describe our focus group work, usability testing, and small-scale pilot testing. We also detail the technical work behind the creation of our simulation. Our project combines Unity® (a popular cross-platform game engine and integrated development environment) with the Novint Falcon® haptic force-feedback device to reach beyond typical teaching methods in today's classrooms. Most of the opportunities to learn during elementary school science take place at the visible concrete (macro) scale, side-stepping the underlying invisible (micro) scale mechanisms. We share our efforts to pinpoint the cognitive influence of haptic force-feedback and present a novel framework that assesses learners' agility moving between macroscale and microscale representations, along with their mechanistic thinking.
Minogue, J., Borland, D., Russo, M., & Chen, S. T. (2016, October). Tracing the Development of a Haptically-enhanced Simulation for Teaching Phase Change. In Proceedings of the 2016 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play Companion Extended Abstracts (pp. 213-219). ACM.