In principle, databases available on the Worldwide Web make astonishingly rich resources available to anyone with  a computer. In practice, however, the deluge of available data has proven overwhelming for expert and non-expert  users alike. Recent innovations at Apple, Google, and elsewhere demonstrate a widespread desire for new search tools  that can help users filter appropriate information out of the information clutter. In virtually every endeavor, from science  to commerce to national defense, efforts are underway to help people rapidly and easily locate things they can actually  use.

We have recently completed and tested a prototype web-based design for the US National Aeronautics and  Space Administration (NASA) that takes an important step toward this goal. In this presentation, I will describe the  Science Education Framework (SEF), a new web-based browser and search tool architecture. We developed the SEF to  help teachers quickly locate and use educational resources from the large number of space science related materials  produced by and for NASA. It also provides access to resources that can help scientists with public communication and  help curriculum developers identify areas needing development. While the SEF provides a means to search  conventionally with several different filters, the three key innovative pieces are: 1) the use of an browser area that is always visible  to help the user remain oriented to the topics, 2) a set of “stories” that provide a context for each topic selected in  the browser area, and 3) a set of four questions based on unifying concepts and processes that organize the resources  found for the selected topic. I will also discuss the opportunities and challenges in applying this design to other databases  and subjects.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Finding a needle in a haystack
Facilitating web-based searches for educational resources

Ilan Chabay   Chalmers University of Technology and Göteborg University, Göteborg (Gothenburg), Sweden

Tom Bowman   Bowman Design Group, Signal Hill, California, USA

John Prusinski   S2N Media, Inc., Warwick, New York, USA

Parvin Kassaie   Education Office, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA

In principle, databases available on the Worldwide Web make astonishingly rich resources available to anyone with  a computer. In practice, however, the deluge of available data has proven overwhelming for expert and non-expert  users alike. Recent innovations at Apple, Google, and elsewhere demonstrate a widespread desire for new search tools  that can help users filter appropriate information out of the information clutter. In virtually every endeavor, from science  to commerce to national defense, efforts are underway to help people rapidly and easily locate things they can actually  use.

We have recently completed and tested a prototype web-based design for the US National Aeronautics and  Space Administration (NASA) that takes an important step toward this goal. In this presentation, I will describe the  Science Education Framework (SEF), a new web-based browser and search tool architecture. We developed the SEF to  help teachers quickly locate and use educational resources from the large number of space science related materials  produced by and for NASA. It also provides access to resources that can help scientists with public communication and  help curriculum developers identify areas needing development. While the SEF provides a means to search  conventionally with several different filters, the three key innovative pieces are: 1) the use of an browser area that is always visible  to help the user remain oriented to the topics, 2) a set of “stories” that provide a context for each topic selected in  the browser area, and 3) a set of four questions based on unifying concepts and processes that organize the resources  found for the selected topic. I will also discuss the opportunities and challenges in applying this design to other databases  and subjects.

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