Digital ArtForms Wins NIH Funding to Develop Virtual Science Lab

Trials to be carried out by Wake Forest School of Medicine and Mars Hill University in North Carolina elementary afterschool programs

Virtual Science Lab (VSL)

Digital ArtForms has been awarded Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to build and test a prototype for a next-generation Virtual Science Lab (VSL), system that could change the face of elementary school science education.

Supported by this NIGMS SBIR award and working in collaboration with Wake Forest School of Medicine and Mars Hill University, Digital ArtForms will build and validate a prototype of the VSL, comparing it to traditional laboratory teaching methods in afterschool programs with real elementary school students.  The technology offered through the VSL platform will put students in control of two virtual hands that allow them to carry out complex tasks that exactly mirror their real-world counterparts – pouring liquids, measuring ingredients, or lighting a Bunsen burner with a striker, just to name a few.  The VSL will also put students in a virtual outdoor world from which they will gather samples for testing back at the lab.

By moving experimentation to a Virtual Science Laboratory space, we can expand the kinds of experiments that elementary students are able to conduct.

Paul Mlyniec, President

“One of the more challenging aspects of science education for public elementary school teachers is the lack of a dedicated science laboratory space. Teachers conduct science experiments in the same room where they’ll be teaching literature or math the very next period. For many teachers this severely limits the kinds of experimentation that can occur in a laboratory course,” said Paul Mlyniec, president of Digital ArtForms. “By moving experimentation to a Virtual Science Laboratory space, we can expand the kinds of experiments that elementary students are able to conduct.”

About Digital ArtForms

Digital ArtForms, Inc. was formed in 1998 to create new applications and markets based on its two-handed interface (THI) technology. The VSL is their second project with NIH, the first being Motion Gaming for Neuroscience Education, a highly successful project that gamified elementary school science curricula.  Digital ArtForms has also developed MakeVR (immersive CAD design) for Sixense Entertainment, Handscape (immersive landscape design), and iMedic (collaborative medical visualization). Digital ArtForms is based in Los Gatos, California.

About Wake Forest School of Medicine

Wake Forest School of Medicine, a recognized leader in cutting-edge research and experiential medical education, is a part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, ( a nationally prominent academic medical center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with an integrated enterprise incorporating hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers and other primary and specialty care facilities that serve the residents of 24 counties in northwest North Carolina and southwest Virginia.

About Mars Hill University

Mars Hill University is a premier private, liberal arts institution offering over 30 baccalaureate degrees, as well as master's degrees in criminal justice, elementary education, and management. Founded in 1856 by Baptist families of the region, the campus is located just 20 minutes north of Asheville in the mountains of western North Carolina. The university's Asheville Center for Adult and Graduate Studies is located on Airport Road in Arden.

About the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the NIH

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) supports basic research that increases understanding of biological processes and lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention. To assure the vitality and continued productivity of the research enterprise, NIGMS provides leadership in training the next generation of scientists, in enhancing the diversity of the scientific workforce, and in developing research capacities throughout the country.

Media Contact: 
Paul Mlyniec
Phone: 408.348.4951 

Source: Digital ArtForms