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SpaceClass: Orion's Path

A New Vector in Interactive Science Education

SpaceClass is a website with online science courses sponsored by NASA, Lockheed Martin, The Space Foundation, and others, whose mission is to educate kids about space using real-life examples. The SpaceClass site integrates educational videos, and instructive, interactive virtual labs. The Orion’s Path virtual lab is a recent e-learning lab in a series of virtual labs that FX One Seven Zero has developed for SpaceClass.

In the Orion’s Path Lab, 6th graders are guided through a mission to the Moon, from the planning stages through surviving on the moon by making water and oxygen from the lunar soil.

Architecting this lesson plan required careful planning and strategy. First, each module had to emulate real-life challenges that an actual mission to the moon would entail. Second, the science content had to be presented in a 6th grade vocabulary. Third, the lessons had to engage the kids it by making it challenging and fun, without confusing them with overly complex concepts or gimmicky lab exercises.

To meet our objectives, and to ensure that kids would be engaged, we created three distinct "virtual space" modules with real space images as the back drop, layered with 3D-rendered machinery modeled after actual equipment. In each module we introduce new math and science topics related to the overall mission, and then presented them with interactive lab exercises that they have to solve before they could move onto the next module.

To ensure that teachers can fully support any students who have difficulties with the concepts being presented in the labs, we created an accompanying Teacher’s Guide that outlines and provides answers to each lesson. The teacher’s guide also includes a vocabulary list so that teachers can help reinforce key terms to their students.

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