The Blue Mars Science Center: Designing a virtual science learning environment

August 15th, 2009 - August 13th, 2009 | PROJECT

TERC Inc. will conduct a one-year proof of concept study that includes the design, development, and research of two prototype science activities for the virtual Blue Mars Science Center located on the Blue Mars 2150 platform developed by Virtual Space Entertainment. Blue Mars is a science fiction-themed virtual world set on Mars far in the future and will be rendered in High Definition, an important incremental step in the development of highly realistic virtual worlds. It is in this virtual world context that the proposed learning activities and research are to be conducted. TERC's research will examine the challenges of learning in virtual environments and which types of tools and interactions can encourage and support collaboration, the results of which will advance both informal and formal learning in virtual worlds. Avatar tracking data, participant observations, interviews, and surveys will be used to study participants. The project has the potential to advance areas of computational visualization systems and cognitive science and will afford an array of learning opportunities using real time data. Millions of visitors to the Blue Mars world will be able to share in an unprecedented range of virtual activities and experiences. It is anticipated that the research will inform the future development of even more advanced immersive interactivity, such as avatar-based models and computationally-oriented interactivity. The study will serve as a basis for both further development of the Blue Mars Science Center and the advancement of research on science learning in virtual worlds. The investigators are interested in continuing to expand as the scientific community evolves in the virtual world. The online world has the potential to become a powerful attractor for the general public to engage in science learning.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Team Members

Jodi Asbell-Clarke, Principal Investigator, TERC Inc
Teon Edwards, Co-Principal Investigator, TERC Inc
Richard Childers, Co-Principal Investigator, Virtual Space Entertainment


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 0917520
Funding Amount: 687831


Audience: Evaluators | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Computing and information science | Education and learning science | General STEM | Technology
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Games | Simulations | Interactives | Media and Technology | Museum and Science Center Exhibits | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media