Science for Everyone: Visions for Near-Future Educational Technology

Science for Everyone: Visions for Near-Future Educational Technology

Charles A. Wood (Wheeling Jesuit University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-936-6.ch028
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Abstract

Recent and emerging technologies offer many opportunities for exploration and learning. These technologies allow learners (of any age) to work with real data, use authentic scientific instruments, explore immersive simulations and act as scientists. The capabilities soon to be available raise questions about the role of schools and do rely on directed learning traditionally supplied by teachers. The prevalence of new tools and data streams can transform society, not just kids, into a culture of learning.
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Real Time Data

Many organizations place near real-time data online, providing opportunities for classes and individuals to experience authentic data analysis, often using professional tools. One extraordinarily successful example is the discovery of comets in the daily solar images obtained by the SOHO spacecraft and placed online. As of July, 2008 (http://home.earthlink.net/~tonyhoffman/SOHOleaderboard.htm), 1500 comets have been discovered by 67 amateur astronomers from 17 countries. Most of these comets would not have been found without the amateurs because professional astronomers do not have the time to search the daily flood of data. Other examples of discoveries from online astronomy data are numerous, including the discovery of asteroids, variable stars, and supernovae. School kids have even discovered proto-planetary objects out beyond Pluto. With the imminent arrival of massive surveys that map the entire sky every three nights, there will be more near real-time astronomical data online than all the astronomers in the world can review. With the creation of appropriate tools, there can be an explosion of science discoveries and explorations by adults and youth everywhere. Science is becoming an activity for everyone.

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