Whitebox Learning

 

 

Whitebox Learning is described as a STEM Learning System for grades 6- 12. It offers students the tools to

"design, analyze, and simulate their designs from a web browser" (Whitebox Learning, 2015). The software comes with a LMS package, where teachers can assign projects, monitor student progress, and provide assessment. Whitebox Learning was created with Unity, a robust virtual environment building program that is often used in making video games. As a result the user experiences and can manipulate objects that are in high definition and have vivid color.

 

Whitebox Learning software can be used as stand alone learning or in tandem with 3-D modeling projects.

Nine different STEM application projects are available for use with this system, including: "Dragster 2.0, Gliders 2.0, Structures 2.0, Green Car 2.0, Rockets 2.0, Mousetrap Car 2.0, Prosthetics 2.0, Rover 2.0, and Survival Shelter 2.0." (https://www.whiteboxlearning.com/applications).  Taking the final step of realizing the design in a physical model is intended to reflect true engineering process (https://www.whiteboxlearning.com/applications). The lessons are standards-based and include topics such as Newton's Laws, Aeronautics, Renewable Engineering, and Bio-physics, just to name a few.

 

The company also advertises possibilities for users to compete or collaborate with other students around the world. The cloud-based nature of this application makes this possible.

 

In an explanatory video on the website, Graham Baughman, Chief Executive Officer, says that training in the Whitebox Learning should take only a minimal amount of time for both teachers and students - under a half hour ((https://www.whiteboxlearning.com). He explains that this easy transfer of learning is modeled on business practice.

 

The Company

 

Whitebox Learning is a software company, founded in 2015, which "develops pre-engineering "Integrated-STEM" simulation software applications for engineering, science, and "STEM" classes " (edtechreview.com, 2015).

 

 

3-D Modeling and 3-D Printing

 

Thomas (2012) suggests that the struggle to interest more students in STEM can be addressed by having them actually make the things they design. 3-D modeling and 3-D printing are processes that can engage and excite students about technology, engineering, bio-engineering, etc.

 

In addition, 3-D modeling and 3-D printing are recognized tools of the Maker Movement and the nacent Maker Education Movement.

 

 

Limitations

 

 

The actual cost of using the Whitebox Learning system is not available on the website, leading this researcher to surmise that the company operates as do many other software companies on a seat-license basis. The kits range in price from about $6 to several hundred dollars depending upon the complexity and the mechanics. While all available feedback appeared to be positive, it is not clear how extensively this system has been employed and with what success.

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