Tyto Online is Research-Based

We designed based on best practices on educational games research, modern methods for science teaching, and have conducted original research pilots showing efficacy.

Our Original Research
Tyto Online is Research-Based
We designed based on best practices on educational games research, modern methods for science teaching, and have conducted original research pilots showing efficacy.
Tyto Online is Research-Based
Tyto Online is Research-Based
Tyto Online is Research-Based
Tyto Online is Research-Based

There is considerable research about what makes educational games more powerful for your classroom learning.

Some critical game-based learning research that informed our design:

Embedded Learning

Gameplay itself should involve the learning objectives in order to beat the game, rather than using unrelated gameplay with pop-up multiple choice questions. Research shows this has better outcomes, and students chose to play 7x longer with embedded learning - it's more fun! (1)

Play Multiple Sessions

Studies also show that playing multiple game sessions results in better learning outcomes than not playing, or only playing once. (3)

Immersive Role-Playing

Immersive and role-playing games show increased academic performance, and better transfer of skills than other types of games. (4)

And some key approaches for teaching science that we utilize, too:

Engage in Science & Engineering Practices

Science curriculum that gives students opportunities to engage in practices improved achievement on next generation science assessments. (5)

Use Simulations

Powerful learning games often involve simulations, as this aligns with the Next Generation Science Standard vision of exploring concepts with science practices in order to learn. One study also showed students' academic achievement improved 23% when using simulations! (2)

Experience Phenomena

Students must have direct experience with the phenomena they are learning about, including raising questions and drawing new conclusions through experiences. (6)

From a general pedagogical perspective, we built with these principles in mind:

Problem-Based Learning

Utilizing a problem-based learning approach is shown to encourage accessing of prior knowledge and high-road transfer, improving metacognitive awareness and long-term retention. (7)

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning has a broad set of diverse, positive outcomes for students, including better communication, improved motivation, and even feelings of acceptance and inclusion among group members. (6)

Our Original Research

We regularly receive grants from organizations like the NSF to make new product features and conduct pilots to study the impact of Tyto Online. This information is used to show its impact, but the learning also drives iterative improvements to the product to constantly improve our impact.

Read about some of our projects and research studies below.


NSF SBIR Phase 1 + 2: Expeditions

We are currently in Phase II with our NSF SBIR project funding the new Expeditions feature. In Expeditions, students work together collaboratively in groups to solve problems: first collecting data to come to a consensus about what the problem is, and then testing engineering solutions to create a recommendation. We conducted a pilot at the end of our Phase I work to obtain initial learning data, and are now conducting design-based research during Phase II as we expand and improve.

Our top-line result was a 12% increase in Science and Engineering Practices.

Download our Whitepaper:

IES SBIR Phase 1: Weather & Climate

This ED/IES grant funded our first venture outside of Life Science, where we built Weather & Climate, including Climate Change. For the Phase 1 project, we build three Storylines for these concepts, and a Sandbox where students bring a dead planet to life. Watch the video below for an overview of the research and development project.

96% of students

interested in using the game
to learn more topics

0.96 correlation

between completing more quests and having better pre/post test growth

We've improved the Storylines and Sandbox since this pilot. Check out the Weather & Climate Module. You'll see an entire beautiful ocean reef for example, instead of just a fish tank!


Habgood, M.P., Jacob and Ainsworth, Shaaron E (2011). Motivating children to learn effectively: exploring the value of intrinsic integration in educational games. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(2), 169-206.


D’Angelo, C., Rutstein, D., Harris, C., Haertel, G., Bernard, R., & Borokhoski, E. (2014). Simulations for STEM Learning: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Menlo, Park, CA: SRI International.


Clark, D.B., Tanner-Smith, E.E., & Killingsworth, S. (2014). Digital games, design, and learning: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.


Takeuchi, L. M., & Vaala, S. (2014). Level up learning: A national survey on teaching with digital games. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.


Harris, C. J., Penuel, W. R., DeBarger, A., D’Angelo, C., & Gallagher, L. P. (2014). Curriculum Materials Make a Difference for Next Generation Science Learning: Results from Year 1 of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.


Worth, K., Duque, M., & Saltiel, E. (2009). Designing and implementing inquiry-based science units for primary education. Montrouge, France: Pollen, Seed Cities for Science.


Hmelo, C.E., & Evensen, D.H. (2000). Problem-based learning: Gaining insights on learning interactions through multiple methods of inquiry. In. D.H. Evensen & C.E. Hmelo (Eds.), Problem-based learning: A research perspective on learning interactions (1-18). New York, NY: Routledge Falmer.

Gavriel, S., & Perkins, D.N. (1989). Rocky roads to transfer: Rethinking mechanics of a neglected phenomenon. Educational Psychologist, 24(2), 113-142.


Gillies, R.M., & Ashman, A.F. (2003). An historical review of the use of groups to promote socialization and learning. In R.M. Gillies and A.F. Ashman (Eds.), The social and intellectual outcomes of learning in groups (1-18). New York, NY: Routledge Falmer.

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