Technology Tools
Technology Tools

Educators often take advantage of educational technologies as they make the shifts in instruction, teacher roles, and learning experiences that next gen learning requires. Technology should not lead the design of learning, but when educators use it to personalize and enrich learning, it has the potential to accelerate mastery of critical content and skills by all students.

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Primary Contact Name:
Cliff Zintgraff
Award Date:
June 2011
Grade Levels:
Math, Science, Career Education
Licensing purchase for schools and districts; Free lesson & PD video available at

The Innovation: WhyPower

Math and science learning is foundational to high school success, helping students make good high school coursework choices that results in improved college and career readiness.

WhyPower is a middle school program and supplemental curriculum that teaches the math and science of energy. The platform for instruction is Whyville, a learning-based virtual world where students interact with a virtual power grid, learn math and science, and earn virtual energy career badges. WhyPower lesson plans are cross-matched to standards in math, science, and career education and include a tool to connect academic learning to local career pathways and jobs.

Common Core State Standards:

Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8
Expressions & Equations 6.EE.A.1, 6.EE.A.2.C, 6.EE.A.4, 6.EE.B.6, 6.EE.B.7, 6.EE.C.9 7.EE.A.2, 7.EE.B.3, 7.EE.B.4.A, 7.EE.B.4.B 8.EE.B.5, 8.EE.C.7
Number System 6.NS.B.2, 6.NS.B.3, 6.NS.C.5 7.NS.A.2.A, 7.NS.A.2.C
Ratios & Proportional Relationships 6.RP.A.1, 6.RP.A.2, 6.RP.A.3.A, 6.RP.A.3.B, 6.RP.A.3.C 7.RP.A.2.B, 7.RP.A.2.C, 7.RP.A.3
Statistics & Probability 6.SP.A.1, 6.SP.A.2, 6.SP.A.3, 6.SP.B.4, 6.SP.B.5.A, 6.SP.B.5.A, 6.SP.B.5.B, 6.SP.B.5.C, 6.SP.B.5.D 7.SP.A.1, 7.SP.A.2
Functions 8.F.B.4

Teacher Training Video for Power Planner 2

Results Achieved

The WhyPower project demonstrated positive, statistically significant results:

  • Increased awareness of STEM careers by middle school students
  • Greater interest by students who were previously ambivalent about math
  • Greater student understanding of math’s importance to careers

See the list of published research. Download a research paper published with the 2014 SITE Conference Proceedings (c) 2014 Advancement of Computing in Education.

The Grant Project

With its NGLC funding, DaVinci Minds created STEM-based careers content and activities in a medium that students find engaging. The team developed new lesson plans and training videos for teachers. They delivered the program to 12 participating schools, where 15 teachers used WhyPower during 43 class periods involving 813 students.

Partners: Whyville; Power Across Texas; Alamo Colleges

Today: DaVinci Minds continues to develop additional STEM/STEAM learning modules for the Whyville virtual world learning environment, and to work with small, medium, and large school districts across the U.S. to deploy WhyPower and related products across their middle schools.

"It is a great hands-on, progressive actvity that continually challenges the students and keeps them going forward. I've felt like the last ten years I have been competing against video games in the classroom and now I feel like I have educational ammunition."

–Debra Petree, Beaumont, TX