NASA's Classroom of the Future

NASA's Classroom of the Future (COTF), a segment of Wheeling Jesuit University's Erma Ora Byrd Center for Educational Technologies (CET), has developed a new program titled ExoQuest. The multimedia CD-ROM enables middle school students to explore the far reaches of the solar system and beyond, while giving them practical experiences in researching a variety of science-related topics, including astronomy, biology, chemistry, evolution, Earth science, geology, physics and remote sensing. On these virtual journeys, students participate in simulations of NASA's past, present and future missions. Each investigation poses problems that focus on different areas of research, providing an interdisciplinary approach to science and the scientific method. ExoQuest also creates links between students and scientists at NASA with other research organizations, integrating NASA's experience and expertise into middle school and high school curricula.

ExoQuest offers two types of activities: Background Modules and Mission Modules. Background Modules cover general topics that help prepare students for the Mission Modules. Background Modules introduce students to concepts and techniques that are explored in more detail during the missions. Mission Modules - which include Viking Exobiology Experiments, Water in the Solar System and Extraterrestrial Communication - are based on NASA astrobiology missions. Each module poses a specific question that students answer by conducting both simulated and hands-on experiments. For these experiments, students select their instrumentation, collect data, analyze the data and interpret the results. Classroom of the Future, Wheeling, WV, (304) 243-2388, www.cotf.edu.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2002 issue of THE Journal.

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