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Cellverse: Virtual Reality for Cellular Biology

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Snapshot

Sunday, June 23, 10:30–11:30 am
Location: 201BC

Presentation 2 of 2
Other presentations:
NASA Explores: VR in the Classroom

Dr. Meredith Thompson  
We will explore and discuss how cross platform educational games can facilitate conceptual learning and the development of 21st century skills. Attendees will view Cellverse, a game where a navigator on a tablet and an explorer in virtual reality headset collaborate to diagnose and treat a cell.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Augmented, mixed and virtual realities
Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Science
ISTE Standards: For Coaches:
Digital Age Learning Environments
  • Maintain and manage a variety of digital tools and resources for teacher and student use in technology-rich learning environments.
For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.
For Educators:
  • Manage the use of technology and student learning strategies in digital platforms, virtual environments, hands-on makerspaces or in the field.
Disclosure: The submitter of this session has been supported by a company whose product is being included in the session

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

We are developing a series of educational, collaborative 3D virtual reality (VR) experiences to improve conceptual understandings in cellular biology and develop and refine 21st century skills. In this session, we will share the game and our current research around it, and initiate a discussion around cross-platform collaborative games as tools for learning.
Cellverse is an educational game that uses virtual reality as one tool to help students in high school biology learn about cell structure and the process of transcribing DNA to RNA, and translating RNA to proteins (the central dogma). Working in small teams of two or three, students examine a living cell from within. Each student takes on a complementary role, such as entering the cell in virtual reality (VR) to observe function and structure, using a tablet-based toolkit of disease descriptions, stains, tags, and measurement devices in order to gather data and focus the visualizations in both tablet and VR. Players must work across VR and non VR information sources to diagnose and repair the cell.


1. Introduce cross platform educational games - 5 min
2. Demonstration of Cellverse (fishbowl style) - 25 min - two participants will play, the rest will observe
3. Sharing research on learning as a result of the game - 5 min
4. Discuss cross platform games - 10 min - peer to peer discussion
5. Open time for others to try the game

Supporting research

Thompson, M. (2018) Making Virtual Reality a reality in classrooms. THE Journal. January 11 2018.
Thompson, M., Olivas-Holguin, H., Wang, A., Fan, J., Pan, K., Vargas, D., Gerr, J. Rules, Roles, and Resources: Strategies to Promote Collaboration in Virtual Reality Contexts. CHI 2018 “Novel Interaction Techniques for Collaboration in VR Workshop”.

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