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Texas Students Score in Competition with NASA Research

Wed Apr 23 2008

A group of Texas high school students who are helping the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future assess videogame learning earned second place in the Southwest/Pacific region of the international eCYBERMISSION competition.

Image of LunarTics team.eCYBERMISSION is a U.S. Army-sponsored, web-based science, math, and technology competition that allows students in grades six through nine to compete for regional and national awards while working to solve problems in their community. eCYBERMISSION challenges students to explore how science, math, and technology work in their world.

The students are ninth-graders at Whiteface High School in Whiteface, TX. In December under the guidance of their teacher and advisor, Laura Wilbanks, the team, called the LunarTics, began collecting data about the Selene videogame. The Classroom of the Future™ created Selene last year to study videogame learning and embedded assessment within videogames as part of NASA's research into how to best use videogames to teach science concepts. The students are investigating the concept proposed for the Selene assessment item that investigates players' mental models of impact cratering and volcanism. So far, they have pilot tested a paper-based version of the Selene surface features assessment item.

The students—Ben Donnell, J.R. Hernandez, Keaton Thomas, and Zach Wilbanks—submitted their research about education reform and videogames to the eCYBERMISSION online science fair. Each student won a $3,000 savings bond for placing second in the regional competition.

"We congratulate these regional winners for their superb research and analysis during this year's eCYBERMISSION competition," said Mike Doyle, U.S. Army eCYBERMISSION program manager. "These innovative students were selected from thousands of their peers and show the potential that our bright young Americans have as future leaders in science, math, and technology."

This year, 1,763 teams, comprised of 6,382 students, submitted their research for judging. Now in its sixth year, eCYBERMISSION has awarded more than $4.6 million in U.S. EE savings bonds in support of the science, math, and technology leaders of tomorrow. Since its inception more than 46,000 students from across the country and in U.S. territories and Department of Defense Education Activity schools worldwide have participated in the competition.