Principal Investigators: Jamie Larsen and Jodi Asbell-Clarke

Funders: National Science Foundation


This project is developing and testing a collaborative game-based interactive environment where students, ages 12-18 form a product design team to create a concept model and pitch for a sport product design challenge. Participants, sport researchers, and product experts determine the best pitches with awards for top designs. SportsLab:2020 brings together pedagogical frameworks from game- and project-based learning together with design challenge curriculum that foster learning and understanding of 21st Century skills and STEM concepts. Participants have access to embedded resources to help as they role-play, learn, and tryout skills necessary for success in real world careers. A team collaborative space for planning and tracking progress together with available apps for real world data collection, evaluation, and presentations are used to extend the game beyond the classroom. SportsLab:2020 is modeled after Nike's Innovation Kitchen and Sport Research Lab with an emphasis on creative risk-taking grounded in sound scientific inquiry and engineering design processes. The project engages industry partners including Nike and Vernier Software & Technology for expertise and resources for content as well as awards for the best designs. Ultimately SportsLab:2020 tests the effectiveness of a game-based STEM and ICT-infused sport product design challenge sponsored by industry partners as a way to motivate disengaged youth in ways that lead to potential career paths.

The development of SportsLab:2020 is iterative with research on the impact of SportsLab:2020 on participants' learning, engagement, and disposition, as well as perceptions of their experience in both formal and informal settings. Across pilot and implementation phases, approximately 30 teachers and 200 to 300 students will participate in the challenges. Evaluation includes pre/post tests using established items such as those from NAEP for STEM-content related to the SportsLab:2020 activities and items related to 21st century skills. Using artifacts from the competition, the research examines variation in content knowledge, innovation, and creative problem solving by the participants. NKO, the project evaluator, is conducting a qualitative study of science teachers to explore assumptions and perspective on the use of design challenges to enhance STEM learning. NKO will conduct an external independent peer-review of the research methods, replicate data analysis for validity testing of the findings, and comment on decisions, interventions, and supporting theory to ensure that the work accurately represent the data and conditions. 

The SportsLab:2020 project has the potential to serve as the launching pad for a unique nationwide sport design challenge demonstrating the type of learning called for in numerous reports that emphasize scientific and engineering practices and crosscutting concepts. SportsLab:2020 can serve as a model to help educate and motivate the disengaged learner to become the skilled employee in a quickly changing world.