SciCentr.org is the primary outreach program for Cornell University’s high-performance computing center, the Cornell Theory Center (CTC). Based on the metaphor of a science museum of virtual bricks and mortar, SciCentr runs a science communication fair program, SciFair, for teenagers at remotes sites around the Unites States. In 2003/4 extracurricular SciFair programs ran in five school settings. SciFair leverages online game technology and peer and coach/teacher mentoring to motivate teens toward continued participation in STEM education, to build Fluency in Technology (FITness), and science literacy. Preliminary evaluation of these programs based on survey data and observation suggests that the SciFair Model has the potential to engage teens in science communication projects through which they will build science literacy. We present lessons learned in terms of leveraging the medium of virtual worlds for constructivist learning for science literacy and the concept of a “playful knowledge space.”

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Scifair
A multi-user virtual environment for building science literacy

M. Corbit   Cornell University

S. Kolodziej   Cornell University

R. Bernstein   Cornell University

SciCentr.org is the primary outreach program for Cornell University’s high-performance computing center, the Cornell Theory Center (CTC). Based on the metaphor of a science museum of virtual bricks and mortar, SciCentr runs a science communication fair program, SciFair, for teenagers at remotes sites around the Unites States. In 2003/4 extracurricular SciFair programs ran in five school settings. SciFair leverages online game technology and peer and coach/teacher mentoring to motivate teens toward continued participation in STEM education, to build Fluency in Technology (FITness), and science literacy. Preliminary evaluation of these programs based on survey data and observation suggests that the SciFair Model has the potential to engage teens in science communication projects through which they will build science literacy. We present lessons learned in terms of leveraging the medium of virtual worlds for constructivist learning for science literacy and the concept of a “playful knowledge space.”

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