The purpose of this this web is to create a motivational site for elementary school students (grades 3-5) about to participate in a NASA Langley education program. The web site hopes to gain the attention of students before they embark on the mathematics, science, technology and problem-solving activities contained in the larger NASA “Why?” Files education program. A description of the NASA program and objectives for this sub-web has been provided below.

This page has been divided into five sections. Click the links below to get jump to a specific section in this page. It is also recommended that you peruse the help button provided for the students and make sure you verify your browser versions and plug-ins prior to your students' use.

  1. Student Objectives
  2. Why File Program Overview
  3. Audience for Web
  4. Learner Analysis
  5. Technology/Movie plug-in discussion

An acrobat PDF version and Word doc of the original planning document for this site have also been included.


Student Objectives:

It is hoped that the web site will be a motivational and realism piece for elementary school students by demonstrating real world applications of science, mathematics, technology and problem solving. By showcasing relevant and exciting student engineering projects (involving the use of science, mathematics, technology and problem solving) this supplementary site hopes to gain the attention of elementary school students prior to engaging in the NASA “Why?” Files Education program.

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Why File Program Overview:  

The following excerpt comes from the NASA “Why?” Files web site (http://edu.larc.nasa.gov/dl.html):  

The NASA "Why?" Files Series is a standards-based, technology focused, distance learning initiative designed to integrate and enhance the teaching of math, science, and technology in grades 3-5. The 2000-2001 series of four, 60-minute programs uses problem-based learning and scientific inquiry, including the scientific method and science process skills, to introduce students to the excitement and exploration of real-world mathematics, science and technology. The NASA "Why?" Files is a video and web-based  and includes a resource rich teacher's guide. The series combines the leading-edge technology of the web with the content-driven instructional quality of video programming.

"Why?" File web site description of Problem-based Learning.
e NASA "Why?" Files video series and web site implement problem-based learning.

The first NASA Langley “Why?” Files program airs October 11, 2000 on many PBS stations and has a companion web site with follow web and classroom activities.

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Audience for web:

Students in grades 3-5 are the primary audience. Teachers will incorporate students’ use of the web in their classrooms as a supplement to The NASA “Why?” Files education programming. Students may either view the web site individually under the direction and guidance of the classroom teacher or media-library specialist or via an LCD projector used by the teacher to project the video/web onto a screen. While students could use the web site at home, the primary context planned for this web site will be the school environment. This site is a supplemental aid to the original NASA “Why?” Files content. Students will use the engineering student vignettes as an introductory piece to the larger NASA “Why?” video programming and web site.

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Learner Analysis of future students:

Entry Behaviors:

In order for the students to effectively utilize the web site they need to know how basic Internet and computer skills. For example, students will need to know how to use a mouse, keyboard and powering-up the computer. They will also need to know how to launch an Internet browser and navigate through the site structure provided. The media specialist or teacher may of course facilitate students in these endeavors.

Prior Knowledge:

Students should have some basic/minimal understanding about the process of scientific inquiry or problem solving and how science, mathematics and technology are related to effectively solve problems and learn about the world around us. While students will almost certainly have a notion about what science, mathematics and computers are, they may not have significant exposure to how these topic inter-relate. Absence of this connectivity is not detrimental to viewing the web site, but foreknowledge of this synergy will facilitate the concepts being presented in the web.


Student attitudes will probably be favorable toward using the web and viewing web-based video. Computers and Internet usage to children in this age group in traditionally uninhibited and novel. Science, technology and problem solving are usually interesting concepts to youngsters in this age group as well.


Students preconceptions about how these topics inter-relate should be discussed prior to viewing the web site for students construct new knowledge by building on their previous understanding.

Attitudes Toward Content and
Potential Delivery System:

Prior skills and attitudes toward the mode of delivery (web) will by positive. Students will most likely contain the ability to use a browser and perform rudimentary inquiry and problem solving abilities like observing, recording and generating questions about their environment. Their mathematical ability will cover a wider range of skills, from addition and subtraction to multiplication and division but in all cases, viewing the motivational vignettes will not require students to perform science or mathematical skills.  

Student Motivation:

The web will use the context of information presentation to discuss The NASA “Why?” Files. To facilitate changing attitudes I looked toward Gagne and Driscoll’s Strategies and Conditions for Learning. If the designer is attempting to change an attitude or motivate a user toward a desired action, the following conditions are suggested for presenting the instructional event:

·        Clearly identify examples of choices made by people who possess the desired attitude (credible and attractive-similarity, familiarity, appearance).

·        Clearly identify instances in the students’ lives in which making choices are based on the attitude being presented.

·        Make students aware of the personal benefits gained by making choices based on attitudes (preferably by someone the students admire).

·        Allow students the opportunity to practice making choices associated with the desired attitude (role-playing, group discussion, etc.) and give them feedback..

Keller’s 1987 ARCS model of attention, relevance, confidence and satisfaction has been partially addressed in this web. The concept of attention will be incorporated as this web is supposed to stimulate students as they work through the larger NASA “Why?” File web, which does incorporate more concrete activities. The following components of Keller’s ARCS model dealing with attention will be utilized:

·        Concreteness:

·        Show visual representations of any important object or set of ideas or relationships.

·        Variability:

·        Change the style of presentation.


Demographics, Physiological Status 
and Learner Preferences:

The physiological motor skills of the students using this site should be sufficient to manipulate a mouse and interact with choices on the screen. Special attention has be made to the density of the text/graphics on the page, text size and the reading level of the text itself. Although detailed catering to different learning styles is a complex notion and difficult to incorporate into fixed multimedia web sites, attempts will be made to keep the graphics and text clearly legible and not confuse field-dependent learners. Given the nature of hyperlinks, students will be given control of how they navigate the site. This control feature will also available to you should they display the site using a LCD projector.  


Contextual Location:

Supervisory support should be provided to the learners as they progress through the motivational and content rich web. The learners are still very young and will need assistance as they peruse the web. The physical aspects of the site may vary widely. The site may be viewed in a closed computer lab with a bank of computers side by side or in an open library setting with several computers side-by-side. You may have an Internet computer in classroom and rotate students through the computer station or project the web onto a large screen via a LCD for the whole class to view.

With respect to the social aspects of the site, this too will be varied depending on how you assist the students through the site. Given this, the site will not force you to place students in small groups to discuss/view the site, but may be used either individually or collaboratively, depending on your desired learning outcomes.

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Technology/Movie plug-in discussion:

This section provides a brief description of the differences between QuickTime and RealMedia as related to instructional use.

First it is paramount that you verify your browser version(s) and plug-in installations prior to have students use this site. You may find links to these help pages on the main entry page of this site. Fortunately, all plug-ins are free and if your running version 4.7 or later of either browser you may already have these plug-ins installed. It would also help you to review the help section for students on this web. A help link is provided at the bottom of every page.

There are two main differences between QuickTime movies and RealMedia movies. QuickTime movies will take longer to download then the RealMedia files, but provide a higher quality movie then the RealMedia file. Also, the QuickTime movie will play as a movie within the same web page (embedded) while the RealMedia files will open in a separate new window for each movie. If students select the RealMedia file movies they should close the movie window before proceeding on to other movies. Check out both versions of several movies to see which resolution/quality level you prefer. All QuickTime movies (except one) are not over 2.5 MB in size and the RealMedia movies are half the size of each corresponding QuickTime movie. The QuickTime question 11 is the largest movie (3.9 MB) and RealMedia movie (1.6 MB).

Depending on your connectivity you may prefer to download the RealMedia or QuickTime movie in advance. This will avoid delays in playback during student use. Simply right-click (PC) or control-click (Mac) on  the URL  links  labeled "Download to Disk" in the video questions page. From the drop-down menu select "save target as" for the PC or "Save this link as" for the Mac. The files will now be downloaded to your computer.

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