Week of: March 10, 2008
- NACOL Releases Online Teaching Standards
The North American Council for Online Learning has released a set of voluntary national standards for quality online teaching.
- Underwater Robotics Program
The Prince William County Schools will introduce an underwater robotics program to some 660 students attending the county's 10 high schools.
- SC Launches Virtual School
Students across South Carolina will be able attend school virtually this fall by enrolling in the South Carolina Connections Academy.
- Students Save the Planet and Learn about Engineering
To spur interest in math, science and engineering, IBM released PowerUp, a free multiplayer online game that challenges users to save the planet Helios from ecological disaster.
- New Moon Map
New tools have allowed NASA scientists to create the most detailed map ever of the moon's south lunar pole region.
NACOL Releases Online Teaching Standards
The North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL) has released a set of voluntary national standards for quality online teaching. National Standards for Quality Online Teaching is designed to provide states, districts, online programs, and other organizations with a set of quality guidelines for online teaching. In September 2007, NACOL released National Standards for Online Course Quality is designed to provide a set of quality guidelines for online course content. Together the two sets of standards can be used to guide policy makers in their decisions about implementing online learning environments. They will also serve as a benchmark against which online course providers can judge their own program offerings. The standards take the form of checklists that address the basic components of quality online courses and online instruction. National Standards for Online Course Quality includes quality guidelines for online course content, instructional design, technology, student assessment, and course management. The National Standards for Quality Online Teaching addresses teacher prerequisites such as state licensure; subject-area proficiency; technology skills; the incorporation of active learning, interaction, participation and collaboration in the online environment; and the creation and implementation of assessments, projects, and assignments that meet standards-based learning goals and assesses student learning goals. Both sets of standards fully endorse and draw heavily on standards developed by the Southern Regional Education Board, already in use by sixteen SREB states.
Underwater Robotics Program
The Prince William County Public Schools will introduce an underwater robotics program to some 660 students attending the county's 10 high schools. The 10-week curriculum will culminate in a team competition in the Aquatics Center at George Mason University. Eighty teams will compete in three underwater robotic events, an Innovative Design competition, a Research Paper, and an Engineering Notebook competition. The program, called SeaPerch, is part of the Office of Naval Research's initiative, "Recruiting the Next Generation of Naval Architects." It teaches students how to build a remotely operated underwater robot using principles of math and physics, how to build a propulsion system, how to develop a controller, and how to investigate weight and buoyancy. The underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) will compete in three games designed to judge their maneuverability, speed and control and their ability to retrieve things from the sea floor. The ROVs will be required to maneuver through a submerged obstacle course, retrieve circular rings of varying weight from the pool floor and deposit them in the team's submerged collection bucket. The Design Notebook Award will be given to teams that skillfully communicate how they worked as an engineering team to plan, construct, and test their SeaPerch ROV. The Innovative Design Award will given to teams that demonstrate creativity, imagination, and resourcefulness in their ROV design, coming up with creative design concepts that can improve the performance of their ROV in a particular game or in all games. The Prince William school system and its education foundation partnered with numerous local companies, including Lockheed Martin and Micron Technology, to raise about $36,000 for the program. Local companies like Lockheed Martin and Micron Technologies are also supporting the project by providing technical expertise.
SC Launches Virtual School
Students across South Carolina will be able attend school virtually this fall by enrolling in the South Carolina Connections Academy. The new online school was approved to serve up to 500 K-12 students statewide by the South Carolina Public Charter School District. It will launch in fall 2008 as the only online school in the state authorized to grant a high school diploma. The state operates a program that offers online courses, but it is not possible to earn a high school diploma through that supplemental online learning program. South Carolina Connections Academy students will be required to meet the state's daily and hourly attendance requirements and to take the state's mandated tests. Instruction will be designed to address the state standards. State law requires that at least 25% of instruction take place in real time, so students will participate in online discussion groups and web conferences or engage in phone conversations with their teachers, who will all be licensed South Carolina teachers. In some cases the 25% requirement may be met by face-to-face meetings with a teacher and a cohort of local students. The rest of the time students will work online, using e-mail to communicate with teachers, or work offline using the textbooks and other instructional materials supplied by the school. The state will pick up any costs associated with the program since the students are considered to be enrolled in a public school. Families enrolling in the virtual school will need to provide their own computer. Local coordinators will organize monthly field trips and other group experiences to provide for social interaction among students.
Source:The Post and Courier
Students Save the Planet and Learn about Engineering
To spur interest in math and science, IBM released PowerUp, a free multiplayer online game that challenges users to save the planet Helios from ecological disaster. Released during Engineering Week 2008, an annual effort to promote engineering careers to students worldwide, the 3-D game asks users to complete three missions—focused on solar, wind and water power. Students work in teams to investigate the 3D game environment and learn about the environmental disasters that threaten the game world and its inhabitants. Players meet Expert Engineer characters and experience the great diversity of the field. Conversations with these experts and engaging interactive activities allow players to explore ways engineers design and build systems to harness renewable energy sources as alternatives to burning fossil fuels. Players take on the role of Engineers, working together designing and building energy solutions to save the world. The Teacher's Guide is designed to be a classroom companion to PowerUp, providing background information for teachers and lesson plans that give students opportunities for more in-depth exploration of science and engineering concepts addressed in gameplay. It took the developers about 16 months to build the game. Nearly 200 teens in the Connecticut Innovation Academy served as advisors during the game development. The TryScience team from the New York Hall of Science worked with The Tech Museum in San Jose, California and the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the activities and game content.
New Moon Map
New tools have allowed NASA scientists to create the most detailed map ever of the moon's south lunar pole region. Scientists used NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar facility in the Mojave Desert, to bounce microwave beams off the craggy bottom of the moon. The 3-D radar data gathered with two telescopes on three separate occasions was used to compile the new map, which is 50-times more detailed than the version created by NASA in 1994. In detail of 215 square feet (20 square meters) per pixel, the map shows craters four times deeper than the Grand Canyon and hundreds of miles wide. The detailed images will help NASA decide on landing sites for future lunar missions. The images will also help scientists gather preliminary information about which craters are most promising for searching out water ice or hydrogen deposits that earlier explorations have indicated might exist. NASA expects to develop even better maps once the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is in place. LRO is expected to launch by late fall 2008, taking four days to make its way to the Moon and settle in for at least a year's orbit. The LRO will map the entire surface of the moon.