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Selene Computer Science Grads Earn Research Award

Tue May 13 2008

Two recent computer science graduates who worked on the Selene videogame research funded by NASA at the Center for Educational Technologies® placed in a regional undergraduate research conference.

Storm Conaway of Wheeling, WV, and Michael Phillips of Fairmont, WV, who earlier this month both earned bachelor's degrees at Wheeling Jesuit University, took home third place for their presentation April 19 at the C-CUE Student Technology Forum at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. C-CUE is a regional association of colleges and universities committed to developing and expanding the appropriate use of computing and other information technologies in undergraduate education.

Advising the students were their instructors, Dr. Bev Carter and Dr. Ben Hitt, and Dr. Debbie Denise Reese, senior educational researcher and manager of the Selene project at the Center for Educational Technologies.

The Selene videogame was created by the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future in 2007 as part of an investigation into how students can best learn NASA science through videogames.

Conaway and Phillips developed an online assessment tool to measure learning accomplished by players of the online game. The assessment is part of an informatics system that assesses learning and reports progress to stakeholders—researchers, learners, educators, policymakers, and administrators.

Selene was designed to help learners discover, through gameplay, how the Moon was formed and evolved. One component of the assessment features images of the Moon and ask players to place them in order according to time periods of the Moon's evolution. This set of tasks measures learners' understanding of the concept of stratigraphy. Additional questions ask learners to apply aspects of Selene gameplay toward the solution of problems involving the concepts of accretion, kinetic energy, differentiation, volcanism, and impact cratering. Open-ended questions ask learners how the Moon was formed and how it evolved.

Selene is a great opportunity for students ages 13-18 to learn about lunar geology while helping NASA researchers study some key videogame design principles. Students are especially needed this summer to test the assessments that Conaway and Phillips designed. However, the opportunity is available only to students who have been recruited by adults.

Being a recruiter will not take a lot of time and generally will involve getting parental consent for game players, then sending the students information on accessing the game. To serve as an adult recruiter and help NASA with this important study, e-mail and be sure to provide your contact information, including a phone number where you can be reached. You can also call Lisa McFarland at 304-243-2479.