Students from the College of Engineering’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering program designed a 3D dinosaur game for the Natural History Museum of Utah as part of a digital initiative for school kids.

This month the Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah will launch a new digital program called Research Quest that will give middle school students across the state of Utah the chance to explore some of the museum’s paleontology collections through in-depth, classroom-based investigations. After two years of prototyping the program with 250 students across seven of Utah’s Title I schools, museum researchers have found the program to be effective in increasing students’ critical thinking skills.

Research Quests is funded by the Joseph and Evelyn Rosenblatt Charitable Fund through an initiative called Advancing Critical Thinking, which strives to develop an innovative approach to enhance critical thinking skills in young people. The I.J. and Jeanné Wagner Foundation, the Utah State Legislature and the Utah Division of Workforce Services also support the project.

Working closely alongside the U’s Instructional Design and Education Technology program and the U’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering program, the museum delved into its extensive paleontology collection for the focus of its first Research Quest. In the future, the museum hopes to develop additional Research Quest programs. Each Research Quest will include online investigations for teachers to implement in their classrooms.

“The first question our museum team asked ourselves was, ‘How can we leverage digital learning technologies and the museum’s strengths in a way that’s both measurable and scalable?’” said Madlyn Runburg, the museum’s director of education initiatives.

Read the full press release in the U News Center.