Boundless Together, Part 2

October 7, 2015

A new commercial for UW–Madison will premiere this weekend during the Badger football game. Learn more about the people and projects highlighted in the spot:

Tonight’s Performance: Beethoven’s Concerto in 3-D

Blind from birth, Yeaji Kim learned to play piano at the age of five. Instead of feeling isolated from her peers, Kim formed strong connections with both blind and sighted musicians. Her experiences inspired her to pursue a career in music education and travel from South Korea to UW–Madison to earn her doctorate from the School of Music.

One day, while struggling to play a piece, Kim and one of her professors discovered that the conventional score indicated that some notes should be “beamed,” or connected, in a way that wasn’t communicated on the braille sheet music. This small but vital discrepancy led Kim to develop Tactile Stave Notation, a universal system that could be the bridge between sighted and blind musicians.

Kim’s method renders sheet music in three dimensions by slightly elevating the staff and notes above the surface of the page. And her revolutionary process has created a new opportunity for collaboration between disciplines: A team of graduate and undergraduate students from UW–Madison’s Department of Mechanical Engineering are brainstorming ways to mass produce a 3-D printing process for the system.

Thanks to Kim’s solution, blind and sighted musicians are finally on the same page. Watch more.

Learn to Play — Play to Learn

Why is the White House interested in video games? Ask Constance Steinkuehler. An associate professor of digital media with the School of Education, Steinkuehler served as a senior analyst in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, helping to shape policies intended to back the development of games for educational purposes.

Games can help players learn to think like engineers, urban planners, science journalists and other innovative professionals, giving them the tools they need to become competent and creative problem solvers, she says. Educational games also help students develop social skills such as collaboration and teamwork, helping them form stronger peer bonds.

Along with co-director Kurt Squire, Steinkuehler sees the Games+Learning+Society Center within the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery as a vehicle for turning screen time into learning time. As faculty members with the nation’s No. 1-ranked Department of Curriculum and Instruction, they’re on the leading edge of exploring how video games have the potential to engage smartphone-obsessed students in a range of educational activities.

Their colleague, David Shaffer, a professor in the learning sciences area of the Educational Psychology Department and head of the Epistemic Games Group at UW–Madison, also sees games as a way to help educators move beyond teaching students to memorize facts for standardized tests. He wants to empower teachers to engage more fully with their students.

And if games can help students learn how to solve more complex, variable problems, it’s a win — for everyone.

Watch previous Boundless Together spots.