Press Release

NASA Offers Educational Online Gaming Opportunity to Developers

By SpaceRef Editor
April 21, 2008
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NASA Offers Educational Online Gaming Opportunity to Developers

NASA Solicitation: Partner With NASA on the Development of a MMO Game to Support STEM Learning (solicitaiton with RFP)

WASHINGTON — Educators soon may be able take the “learning can be fun” adage to another level using computer-simulation games with new technologies created by NASA and a yet-to-be-selected game developer.

NASA Learning Technologies sponsored a workshop today to present its concept of delivering NASA content through a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) educational game to interested development partners. Designed to enhance learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), such an online educational game would draw players into a synthetic environment that can serve as a powerful “hands-on” tool for teaching a range of complex subjects.

“NASA will continue to pursue innovative strategies to encourage students to improve their interest and performance in STEM and related careers,” said Dr. Joyce Winterton, NASA assistant administrator for education. “The use of online educational games can capture student interest in NASA’s missions and science.”

The daylong workshop provided more than 200 potential development partners the opportunity to learn directly from NASA officials about the vision, goals, and expectations for the development of an MMO educational game. Participants heard top NASA scientists and education officials talk about NASA’s future plans for space exploration and how the agency is planning to leverage the game to enhance education efforts across the country.

The Learning Technologies Project Office is collaborating with the Innovative Partnerships Program Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to develop the project’s business strategy, which includes a formal request for proposals for development partners and planning for today’s workshop. The Innovative Partnerships Program Office acts as a matchmaker between NASA and commercial businesses, research institutions, and other government laboratories to form mutually beneficial collaborative agreements for research and licensing.

Workshop sessions underscored the importance of stimulating STEM, the value of NASA partnerships to the U.S. economy, and information about current and future science missions. Participants at the workshop also were provided with the opportunity to register for one-on-one briefing sessions with NASA officials to discuss specific questions about the request for proposals.

The power of games as educational tools rapidly is gaining recognition. Virtual worlds with scientifically accurate simulations could permit learners to experiment with chemical reactions in living cells, practice operating and repairing expensive equipment, and experience microgravity. The goal is to make it easier to grasp complex concepts and transfer this understanding quickly to practical problems.

NASA’s MMO educational game will function as a persistent, synthetic environment supporting education as a laboratory, a massive visualization tool, and a collaborative workspace that simultaneously draws students into challenging game-play.

NASA Learning Technologies expects the MMO to appeal mainly to teenagers, ranging from middle-schoolers through high-school and college students.

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SpaceRef staff editor.