Innovative “intelligent tutoring system” will offer simulation-based learning experience based on Columbia University’s Linking Food & Environment curriculum

SAN MATEO, California, Oct. 6, 2004 – Stottler Henke Associates, Inc. ( has received a $100,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a prototype for a simulation-based “intelligent tutoring system” (ITS) that teaches elementary and middle school students about the linkages between food, diet, health and the environment. The system, called LifeSim, is being built around the LiFE (Linking Food & Environment) curriculum developed at Columbia University Teachers College, as part of the educational response to an array of pervasive, diet-related health problems, including child and adult obesity and diabetes. More than 18 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, which for many leads to serious complications, other illnesses and even death. These problems are growing especially rapidly among children and young adults, and the Centers for Disease Control estimate that one in three U.S. children born in 2000 will become diabetic unless our diets and exercise habits improve.

“Stottler Henke is proud to be invited to play a role in advancing this critical health education agenda,” Richard Stottler, president of Stottler Henke Associates, said. “The LifeSim project is an opportunity to apply our expertise designing ‘smart’ software-based training systems to help kids make better choices about what they eat, and to help them understand the science behind food production, processing and consumption.”

Over the past 15 years, Stottler Henke, a software development and consulting firm that specializes in artificial intelligence (AI)-based work, has developed many ITSs for numerous government and commercial clients, including systems for teaching remedial reading skills, algebra and Earth science to high school students. Stottler Henke ITSs are scenario-based training systems that let students assess situations, generate solutions, make decisions, and carry out actions in realistically complex situations. By presenting a wide range of realistic situations, ITSs help students gain knowledge, hone their skills and apply them in practical ways. The result is students better equipped to solve real-world problems and, in the case of LifeSim, make better life decisions.

LifeSim will be based on the paradigm of role-playing simulation used in such popular computer games as SimCity and The Sims. Students using the software will have the goal of improving the nutrition and overall health of people in a simulated town as well as the environmental health of the town. Students will make decisions about diet, about which foods are produced and how, and are able to explore the health and environmental impact of those decisions. “By enabling students to apply their knowledge and to practice making healthful food choices in realistic situations, simulation-based instructional software can teach students skills that may improve how they eat now and into the future,” said Pamela A. Koch, EdD, RD, Project Coordinator, LiFE Curriculum at Columbia University.

In addition, LifeSim will provide explicit coaching in applying scientific methods for investigation. From a technology perspective, it will complement simulation-based learning with two other artificial intelligence based methodologies – the use of lifelike pedagogical agents, and the use of case-based reasoning.

The grant to develop the LifeSim prototype is a Phase I SBIR funded by the NIH National Center for Research Resources in Bethesda, Maryland. If the prototype is successful, Stottler Henke expects to seek additional funding to build an operational system.

Founded in 1988, Stottler Henke Associates, Inc. applies artificial intelligence and other advanced software technologies to solve problems that defy solution using traditional approaches. The company delivers intelligent software solutions for education and training, planning and scheduling, knowledge management and discovery, decision support, and software development. Stottler Henke’s clients include manufacturers, retailers, educational media companies and government agencies. Stottler Henke was named one of the “top 100” companies making a significant impact on the military training industry in 2003 by Military Training Technology magazine.

Oct. 6, 2004