Welcome to the Search for Origins Overview
This design project was developed as a final course project for a graduate class at Virginia Tech in Macromedia Director, for course professor, Dr. John Burton. Three graduate students, Al Byers, David Halpin, and Todd Smith, worked together to create an interactive prototype web-based instructional unit to support the NASA Langley Research Center education program called: NASA CONNECT. This web site has also been awarded with the distinction of being selected as an exemplary showcase product for "The Best Instructional Technology Graduate Student Multimedia Archive". This project was also accepted as a peer-reviewed paper at WebNET 2001: World Conference on the WWW and Internet, now called ELEARN by AACE.org. The title of the brief paper was "Creating Virtual Labs to Teach Middle School Astronomy Principles: The NASA Connect Education Program Series." It is available here as a PDF document.
We worked to develop content for one of NASA Langley's seasonal CONNECT programs titled: Algebra: Mirror, Mirror on the Universe, which originally aired in April of 2000. The NASA Langley Research Center produces the NASA CONNECT program, which is targeted toward middle schools students in grades 5-8. The overarching goal of NASA CONNECT is to establish the connection between the mathematics, science, and technology concepts taught in the classroom and NASA research as tied to appropriate national standards. NASA CONNECT capitalizes on multiple modes of dissemination (web, print, and video) and utilizes several methods of student engagement (interactive virtual labs, hands-on classroom inquiries, critical student discourse using complimentary video questionnaire guides).
In our project students were encouraged to discover how algebra and telescopes are used in space exploration and why optics (the study of light) is important in astronomy. Students are guided to discern for themselves through the virtual web lab component the value of placing orbital observatories in space. Students move from backyard astronomy to mountain observatories and the Hubble Space Telescope to discern what we can learn about the origin of our universe and galaxies. Ultimately, a discussion of the Next Generation Space Telescope is presented. Topics like the electromagnetic spectrum, red shift, right ascension, and declination are discussed in detail with multimedia animation and strong user control, feedback and interactivity.