John Chambers: Game-based Motivation for Speech Therapy

Student's Name: 
John Chambers
Advisor's Name: 
Sri Kurniawan
Home University: 
University of South Carolina Aiken
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Across the world, children born with cleft palate struggle in their speech development. By the time they are able to undergo reparative surgery at two years of age, they have unfortunately already developed incorrect syllable pronunciation patterns. Though therapy certainly helps, the homework exercises it requires are highly redundant, which drives the children to resist them. Unfortunately, the longer they put them off, the lower their capacity for full recovery becomes. Therefore, under the direction of Professor Sri Kurniawan and graduate student Zak Rubin, John Chambers designed an iPod game to motivate the children to actually do their exercises and, thus, to make a full recovery.

The game is an interactive storybook based largely on Dora the Explorer. Its storytelling component serves to capture the children’s attention for longer periods and to motivate them to participate in the game. Participation involves using voice commands to assist the main character through various challenges, and the correct voice commands in each challenge include the structures the children are supposed to practice for the week. Thus, the game disguises practice as play, making it much less frustrating for both the children and their parents.

John Chambers is a senior math and computer science major at the University of South Carolina Aiken for the Fall 2012 semester, and he plans to pursue a life and career that mix research, computer science, education, politics, and philanthropy.