The Classroom of the Future (COTF) at WJU, has recently received national attention for its ability to make learning an out-of-this-world experience. The BioBLAST® program offers a unique learning experience by placing users in a virtual environment and challenging them to develop and test designs for a self-contained lunar life support system. BioBLAST was the recipient of a 1999 Copper AXIEM (Absolute Excellence in Electronic Media) Award.
BioBLAST® Program Nationally Recognized
Learning can be an adventure. BioBLAST (Better Learning Through Adventure, Simulation and Telecommunications), a multimedia curricular supplement for high school biology classes developed by NASA's Classroom of the Future (COTF) at WJU, has recently received national attention as the recipient of a 1999 Copper AXIEM (Absolute Excellence in Electronic Media) Award. The BioBLAST multimedia software offers students a unique learning experience by placing them in a virtual environment and challenging them to develop and test designs for a self-contained lunar life support system.
The AXIEM Award is a competitive national awards program committed to honoring those who produce the very best in electronic media. AXIEM is the only media award that represents and solicits applications from the entire electronic media industry. Individual entries do not compete with one another. Instead, they are judged on their own merits and against an absolute standard of excellence established for each category. As a top award winner in the interactive media category, BioBLAST received the Copper AXIEM for its overall conceptual quality and program design.
Finalists in the competition are given the Silver AXIEM. Laurie Ruberg, Senior Instructional Designer at the COTF, was extremely pleased that a COTF project was chosen for an honor that acknowledges progressive electronic programming. Ruberg also hopes that BioBLAST will start a trend in multimedia educational tools. "Our contact with NASA and its Advanced Life Support (ALS) research make this program truly unique," she said. "ALS provides real information on cutting edge advances in bioregenerative systems and techniques. When this kind of information is available to students in a task-oriented program, the learning experience has richness, complexity and reality."
The concepts and content material for BioBLAST were created with technical advice and input from ALS scientists and engineers primarily based at Kennedy Research Center and Johnson Space Center. A software development group consisting of a project manager, instructional designers, programmers, graphic designers, curriculum writers, and videographers at the COTF designed, developed, and tested the software with a team of science teachers from 13 states, Canada, and Singapore.
The sophistication of BioBLAST was also acknowledged and applauded by Children's Software Revue and was given a 4.2 (out of a possible five) star rating in Children's Software Magazine.
In their May/June issue, the magazine staff noted that "the interactive simulations are well done and there's a lot of depth to the program." The favorable review has already prompted several organizations to contact the COTF about distributing the BioBLAST software package.
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