The STEM App Challenge 2012

Want your App to be made available to thousands of students?

Submissions will be accepted from April 2nd - June 4th

The goal of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) App Challenge is to identify innovative mobile applications that address STEM learning for grades 9-12. In this inaugural year of the challenge, we are opening the challenge to any mobile App developer and would like to specifically challenge college students who have creative ideas for developing mobile applications that foster problem-solving, discovery, and exploratory learning in the area of “common misconceptions of science.”There is no cost for entering the App Challenge. Please see THE STEM APP CHALLENGE OFFICIAL RULES for submission requirements and details on how to enter.

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STEM App Challenge
c/o Dr. Kristy Murray, Director
Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative
13501 Ingenuity Drive, Suite 248
Orlando, FL 32826


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Learn

Given that a student’s templates for the comprehension of concepts are a function of his or her prior learning experiences, misconceptions are often developed because these templates can be flawed. Therefore, the students’ intuitive understanding of the world does not always agree with the scientific explanation. Development of complex concepts is normally reliant on building upon less-complex templates, or key concepts. Key concepts that are either missing or not fully understood, especially in science, lead to misconceptions. See Appendix A for some common science misconceptions.

The objective of the STEM App Challenge is to create a winning App that will help students acquire content/concept knowledge and understanding by manipulating tasks, simulations, or situations that require students to critically evaluate what they are learning. This would help students discover and realize basic understanding vital to learning about science.

Winners will be showcased, and announced at the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative’s iFest Conference in Orlando, Florida 31 July-2 Aug 2012. The winning App may be used by the Department of Defense Education Activity’s (DoDEA) schools. Your STEM App could be used by thousands of kids!

Common Misconceptions about Science

(taken from children's science misconceptions)
Misconceptions about Measurement
  1. Measurement is only linear.
  2. Any quantity can be measured as accurately as you want.
  3. Children who have used measuring devices at home already know how to measure.
  4. The metric system is more accurate than other measurement systems (such as the English system).
  5. The English system is easier to use than the metric system.
  6. You can only measure to the smallest unit shown on the measuring device.
  7. Some objects cannot be measured because of their size or inaccessibility.
  8. The five senses are infallible.
  9. An object must be “touched” to be measured.
  10. A measuring device must be a physical object.
  11. Mass and weight are the same and they are equal at all times.
  12. Mass and volume are the same.
  13. The only way to measure time is with a clock or a watch.
  14. Time has an absolute beginning.
  15. Heat and temperature are the same.
  16. Heat is a substance.
  17. Cold is the opposite of heat and is another substance.
  18. There is only one way to measure perimeter.
  19. Only the area of rectangular shapes can be measured in square units.
  20. Surface area can be found only for two-dimensional objects.
  21. Surface area is a concept used only for mathematics classes.
  22. You cannot measure the volume of some objects because they do not have “regular” lengths, widths, or heights.
  23. An object’s volume is greater in water than in air.
  24. The density of an object depends only on its volume.
  25. Density for a give volume is always the same.
  26. The density of two samples of the same substance with different volumes or shapes cannot be the same.
Common Physical Science Misconceptions
  1. When things dissolve they “disappear.”
  2. Materials can only exhibit properties of one state of matter.
  3. Melting and dissolving are confused.
  4. Dew formed on the outside of glass comes from the inside of the glass.
  5. Expansion of matter is due to the expansion of particles rather than the increased particle spacing.
  6. Molecules of a gas “just float” rather than being kept in the gaseous state by their motion.
  7. There is not empty space between molecules; rather students believe there is dust, germs or “air" between the particles of air.
  8. Particles of solids have no motion.
  9. Relative particle spacing among solids, liquids, and gases is incorrectly perceived and not generally related to the densities of the states.
  10. Frequent disregard for particle conservation and orderliness when describing physical changes.
  11. Gases are not matter because most are invisible.
  12. Absence of conservation of particles during a chemical change.
  13. Failure to perceive that individual substances and properties correspond to a certain type of particle. Formation of a new substance with new properties is seen as simply happening rather than as a result of particle rearrangement.
  14. The temperature of an object drops when it freezes.
  15. Mass and volume, which both describe an “amount of matter,” are the same property.
  16. “Steam” is the visible cloud of water vapor over boiling water.
  17. Energy is a “thing,” an object or something that is tangible.
  18. The chemistry of biological systems does not follow all the same rules of thermodynamics as other systems.
  19. “Cold” can be transferred.
  20. Energy is truly lost in many energy transformations.
Common Misconceptions about Energy
  1. Energy is truly lost in many energy transformations.
  2. There is no relationship between matter and energy.
  3. If energy is conserved, why are we running out of it?
  4. Energy can be changed completely from one form to another (no energy losses).
  5. Things “use up” energy.
  6. Energy is confined to some particular origin, such as what we get from food or what the electric company sells.
  7. An object at rest has no energy.
  8. The only type of potential energy is gravitational.
  9. Gravitational potential energy depends only on the height of an object.
  10. Doubling the speed of a moving object doubles the kinetic energy.
  11. Energy is a “thing.” This is a fuzzy notion, probably because of the way we talk about Newton-meters or joules. It is difficult to imagine an “amount” of an abstraction.
  12. The terms “energy” and “force” are interchangeable.
  13. From the non-scientific point of view, “work” is synonymous with “labor.” It is hard to convince someone that more “work” is probably being done playing football for one hour than studying an hour for a quiz.
Common Misconceptions about Sound
  1. Sounds can be produced without using any material objects.
  2. Hitting an object harder changes the pitch of the sound produced.
  3. Human voice sounds are produced by a large number of vocal cords that all produce different sounds.
  4. Loudness and pitch of sounds are the same things.
  5. You can see and hear a distinct event at the same moment.
  6. Sounds can travel through empty space (a vacuum).
  7. Sounds cannot travel through liquids and solids.
  8. Sounds made by vehicles (like the whistle of a train) change as the vehicles move past the listener because something (like the train engineer) purposely changes the pitch of the sound.
  9. In wind instruments, the instrument itself vibrates (not the internal air column).
  10. Music is strictly an art form; it has nothing to do with science.
  11. Sound waves are transverse waves (like water and light waves).
  12. Matter moves along with water waves as the waves move through a body of water.
  13. When waves interact with a solid surface, the waves are destroyed.
  14. In actual telephones, sounds (rather than electrical impulses) are carried through the wires.
  15. Ultrasounds are extremely loud sounds.
  16. Megaphones create sounds.
  17. Noise pollution is annoying, but it is essentially harmless.
Common Misconceptions about Matter and Its Changes
  1. Gases are not matter because most are invisible.
  2. Gases do not have mass.
  3. A "thick" liquid has a higher density than water.
  4. Mass and volume, which both describes an "amount of matter," are the same property.
  5. Air and oxygen are the same gas.
  6. Helium and hot air are the same gas.
  7. Expansion of matter is due to the expansion of particles, rather than the increased particle spacing.
  8. Particles of solids have not motions.
  9. Relative particle spacing among solids, liquids, and gasses is incorrectly perceived and not generally related to the densities of the states. (Microscopic model does not represent macroscopic properties.)
  10. Materials can only exhibit properties of one state of matter.
  11. Particles possess the same properties as the materials they compose. For example, atoms of copper are "orange and shiny," gas molecules are "transparent," and solid molecules are "Hard."
  12. Melting/freezing and boiling/condensation are often understood only in terms of water.
  13. Particles viewed as mini-versions of the substances they comprise: oxygen molecules are invisible, water molecules are tiny droplets, and diamond molecules are hard.
  14. Particles misrepresented in sketches: no differentiation is made between atoms and molecules.
  15. Particles misrepresented and undifferentiated in concepts involving elements, compounds, mixtures, solutions, and substances.
  16. Frequent disregard for particle conservation and orderliness when describing changes.
  17. Absence of conservation of particles during a chemical change.
  18. Chemical, rather than interactive. After chemical change, the original substances are perceived as remaining even though they are altered.
  19. Failure to perceive that individual substances and properties correspond to a certain type of particle ... formation of a new substance with new properties is seen as simply happening, rather than as a result of particle rearrangement.
  20. The "smoke" seen with dry ice is carbon dioxide vapors.
  21. The temperature of an object drops when it freezes.
  22. The chemistry in biological systems does not follow all the same rules of thermodynamics as other systems.
Misconceptions about Force and Motion and Simple Machines
  1. Time can be measured without establishing the beginning of the interval.
  2. The location of an object can be described by stating its distance from a given point, ignoring direction.
  3. The distance an object travels and its displacement are always the same.
  4. An object’s speed is the same as its velocity.
  5. If an object is accelerating, then the object is speeding up.
  6. An object’s acceleration cannot change direction.
  7. Acceleration always occurs in the same direction as an object is moving.
  8. If an object has a speed of zero (even instantaneously), it has no acceleration.
  9. The only “natural” motion is for an object to be at rest.
  10. If an object is at rest, no forces are acting on the object.
  11. A rigid solid cannot be compressed or stretched.
  12. Only animate objects can exert a force. Thus, if an object is at rest on a table, no forces are acting on it.
  13. Force is a property of an object. An object has force, and when it runs out of force it stops moving.
  14. The motion of an object is always in the direction of the net force applied to the object.
  15. Large objects exert a greater force than small objects.
  16. A force is needed to keep an object moving with a constant speed.
  17. Friction always hinders motion. Thus, you always want to eliminate friction.
  18. Frictional forces are only due to irregularities in surfaces moving past one another.
  19. Rocket propulsion is due to exhaust gases pushing on something behind the rocket.
  20. When dropped in a vacuum, objects of different masses fall at different speeds.
  21. When dropped in a vacuum, objects fall at constant speeds.
  22. A simple machine with a mechanical advantage greater than one is easier to use than a simple machine with a mechanical advantage less than one.
  23. Any force times any distance is work.
  24. Machines put out more work than people put in.
  25. Power is the same as force or work.
  26. Work is any activity one gets tired doing, gets paid for doing, or doesn’t like doing.
  27. Forces acting on bodies/objects are associated with living things.
  28. Constant motion requires a constant force.
  29. If a body is not moving, there is no force acting upon it.
  30. Objects in a vacuum fall at a constant speed.
  31. If a body is in motion, there is force acting upon it in the direction of motion.
  32. There is no gravity in space.
Common Misconceptions about Electricity
  1. Objects become positively charged because they have gained protons.
  2. Objects become positively charged because their electrons have been destroyed.
  3. All atoms are charged.
  4. Larger magnets are stronger than smaller magnets.
  5. Current flows from a battery (or other source of electricity) to a light bulb (or other item that consumes electricity), but not from the light bulb to the battery.
  6. Current flows out of both terminals of a dry cell or both connections in an electrical outlet.
  7. Current flows around a complete circuit, but it is used by objects like light bulbs so less current returns than leaves the source of the electricity.
  8. All the electrons that make up a electrical current are initially contained in the battery or generator that is the source of the electricity.
  9. Electricity is produced in the wall socket.
  10. Electrons change into light when a lamp is turned on.
  11. Wires are hollow like a water hose, and electrons move inside the hollow space.
  12. A larger battery will make a motor run faster or a bulb burn brighter.
  13. Pure water is a good conductor of electricity.
  14. Electricity from a dry cell will shock or hurt if it is touched.
  15. Insulation is used to keep electricity in the wire.
  16. All wires are insulated.,
  17. Birds can perch on bare wires without being hurt because birds have insulated feet.
  18. A charge object can only affect other charged objects.
  19. The electrostatic force between two charged objects in not affected by the distance between them.
  20. Gravitational forces are stronger than electrostatic forces.

List compiled by from the American Institute of Physics. Hapkiewicz, A. (1992). Finding a List of Science Misconceptions. MSTA Newsletter, 38 (Winter’92), pp. 11-14

  1. Electrons which are lost by an object are really lost (no conservation of charge).
  2. A charged object can only attract other charged objects.
  3. Batteries have electricity inside them.
Common Misconceptions about Magnetism
  1. All metals are attracted to a magnet.
  2. All silver colored items are attracted to a magnet.
  3. All magnets are made of iron.
  4. Larger magnets are stronger than smaller magnets.
  5. The magnetic and geographic poles of the earth are located at the same place.
  6. The magnetic pole of the earth in the northern hemisphere is a north pole, and the pole in the southern hemisphere is a south pole.
  7. Only magnets produce magnetic fields.
  8. A magnetic field is a pattern of lines (not a field of force) that surrounds a magnet.
  9. In a magnet, the magnetic field lines exist only outside the magnet.
Common Misconceptions about Heat and Temperature
  1. Ice cannot change temperature.
  2. When the temperature of a boiling substance remains constant, something is “wrong.”
  3. The bubbles in boiling water contain “air,” Oxygen,” or “nothing,” rather than water vapor.
  4. All liquids boil at 100°C (212°F) and freeze at 0° C (32°F).
  5. Heat is a substance.
  6. Heat is not energy.
  7. Temperature is a property of a particular material or object (metal is naturally colder than plastic).
  8. The temperature of an object depends on its size.
  9. Heat and cold are different, rather than being opposite ends of continuum.
  10. Boiling is the maximum temperature a substance can reach.
  11. Objects of different temperatures which are in constant contact with each other, or in contact with air at a different temperature, do not necessarily move toward the same temperature.
  12. Heat only travels upward.
  13. Heat rises.
  14. The kinetic theory does really explain heat transfer. (It is recited, but not believed.)
  15. Objects which readily become ware (conductors of heat) do not readily become cold.
  16. All solids expand at the same rate.
Common Misconceptions about Forces in Fluids
  1. Objects float in water because they’re “lighter” than water.
  2. Objects sink in water because they’re “heavier” than water.
  3. Mass, volume, weight, heaviness, size, and density may be perceived as equivalent.
  4. Wood floats and metal sinks.
  5. All objects containing air float.
  6. Liquids of high viscosity are also liquids with high density.
  7. Adhesion is the same as cohesion.
  8. Heating air only makes it hotter.
  9. Pressure and force are synonymous.
  10. Pressure arises from moving fluids.
  11. Moving fluids contain higher pressure.
  12. Liquids rise in a straw because of “suction.”
  13. Fluid pressure only acts downward.
Win

For the purpose of the Challenge, entries will be considered a mobile STEM App if they involve the assigned challenge, age group, mobile platform (mobile web, mobile phone, tablet, etc.), and employ some form of problem-solving, discovery, and exploratory learning in the area of common misconceptions of science.

All entries will be judged by evaluators in three primary areas: Learning Solution to a Stated Problem; Technical Quality; and Usability. Entries may be submitted that run on a mobile device or through emulation on a PC.

It is important to clearly define the problem or need that is being addressed, as well as the STEM solution involved. It is equally important that your entry be not only technologically sound in its development, delivery and user interface, but also engaging, enjoyable, and easy to use; providing a challenging and rewarding learning experience to the user. Further, innovative approaches are specifically encouraged and, as such, rewarded in the scoring.

Official Rules