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Posted: Sep 26, 2013
'Molecular Theme Park' website wins educational 'best of Web' award
(Nanowerk News) Faculty researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute were honored for their efforts in developing and creating the NanoSpace website, an online science “theme park” that aims to excite elementary and middle-school students about the world of atoms and molecules.
Rensselaer and NanoSpace received a “2013 Best of the Web” award from the Center for Digital Education, in the category of Higher Education Website.
Launched in 2012, NanoSpace features free science-themed games, videos, and other activities for an audience of students in 4th through 8th grade, as well as their teachers and parents, in a fun-filled amusement park and learning environment. NanoSpace is a part of the Molecularium Project, the flagship outreach and education effort of the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center.
“The fact that Rensselaer was presented with the ‘Best of the Web’ award for NanoSpace inspires all of us in our Nanotechnology Center to continue our commitment to increasing science literacy in children,” said Richard W. Siegel, director of the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center, and the Robert W. Hunt Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer. “NanoSpace serves as a model for how highly technical information can be communicated in a simple, accessible form that children can understand—and enjoy.”
Within NanoSpace, more than 25 games and animations aim to encourage elementary and middle-school students to learn more about atoms and molecules. Visitors can try to beat the clock in the “Periodic Memory Game,” and click-and-drag atoms to construct molecules in “Build’em.” Or, they can answer multiple-choice questions in “Who wants to be a Quidecillionaire?,” and hope the answer is correct before they fall down to the bottom rung again. Five new animations feature the Molecularium computer “Mel” talking to his young friends about atoms and molecules, polymers, and even understanding DNA as “The Software of Life.”
The Center for Digital Education’s “Best of the Web” awards recognize and honor outstanding education websites. The awards are open to all education institution websites in the United States, including K-12 districts, schools, colleges, universities, teachers, multi-class, parent, and student websites. The Center for Digital Education is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy, and funding.
“Educational institutions are constantly tasked with creating quality websites and applications to deliver services and enhance learning,” said Kim Frame, executive director of the Center for Digital Education. “This year’s winners are cognizant of this challenge and have developed innovative models to increase learning and promote achievement via the use of technology. The center congratulates them for creativity and dedication toward excellence!”
About The Molecularium Project
The Molecularium Project is the flagship outreach and education effort of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Nanotechnology Center. Its mission is to expand science literacy and awareness, and to excite young audiences to explore and understand the molecular nature of the world around them. This is done through compelling stories, experiential learning and unprecedented visualizations in immersive and interactive media.
Along with Siegel, executive producers of The Molecularium Project are: Linda Schadler, the Russell Sage Professor at Rensselaer and associate dean for academic affairs for the School of Engineering; and Shekhar Garde, the Elaine and Jack S. Parker Professor at Rensselaer and head of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. Siegel and Schadler are faculty members of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer.
The Molecularium Project includes free, interactive web-based activities and games in NanoSpace as well as giant screen and digital dome shows designed to excite and educate children about atoms and molecules and their role in the world around them. The Project’s online portal is http://www.molecularium.com.
Molecules to the MAX! is a 3-D giant screen adventure for family audiences. The film has played in IMAX and other giant screen theaters throughout the United States and around the world, and has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and Spanish. The 40-minute feature film was released in 2010. A DVD release is scheduled in the coming months.
Molecularium - Riding Snowflakes is an award-winning digital dome experience that takes young audiences into the magical, musical world of atoms and molecules. This 23-minute immersive show for digital domes and planetariums was released in 2005, and has since played around the world in several languages.