Campus News

$1.95M grants to be used to improve science teaching tools

Tom Robertson is an associate professor of physiology and pharmacology.

Two federal grants totaling $1.95 million will provide jobs and research support for a growing UGA startup company that aims to change the way science is taught in classrooms.

The researchers are going beyond traditional textbooks to engage high school students in their learning experiences. Funding totaling $1.8 million from a National Institutes of Health grant will be used to create new software-based case studies, applications and iBooks to teach important concepts related to how nerve cells function. Students also will learn how these functions can be affected by various diseases, said Tom Robertson, an associate professor of physiology and pharmacology at the College of Veterinary Medicine who is the CEO of startup company IS3D LLC.

A second grant from the National Science Foundation will fund the development of a Web portal for teachers and students. The portal will be designed to help teachers analyze students’ problem-solving skills.

Together, the grants will provide eight technology jobs for the next three years, Robertson said.

IS3D was founded in 2010 by eight UGA faculty and staff members who share the philosophy that today’s high school and elementary students could become more interested in learning science-and better master its principles-through interactive software designed to engage them in the learning process, he said. To date, IS3D has released a number of science education applications for both Apple and Android mobile devices, and the new funding ensures more will follow.

Over the next three years, the new teaching materials and portal will be developed with teachers and students from multiple school districts in Georgia and other states, said Robertson.