Last week I was fortunate enough to be taken on a tour of the virtual world of River City created under the direction of Chris Dede of Harvard. He is the principle investigator of a grant funded by the National Science Foundation designed to explore the teaching possibilities of virtual worlds.
I was joined on the tour by Gordon Snyder of NCTT, Scott St. Onge and Hilary Mason of Johnson and Wales University as we are teaming up for a presentation in a few weeks (my contribution with Hilary is virtual via Second Life.)
If you haven’t heard of The River City project or of Chris Dede, it is a fascinating project. Chris has been a pioneer in Multi-User Virtual Environment Experimental Simulators(MUVEES) for learning and The River City Project is a great example of a MUVEES used to teach students about the scientific inquiry process.
Arriving in River City to determine the cause of the mysterious illness.
As the River City Web Site Indicates:
As visitors to River City, students travel back in time, bringing their 21st century skills and technology to address 19th century problems. Based on authentic historical, sociological, and geographical conditions, River City is a town besieged with health problems. Students work together in small research teams to help the town understand why residents are becoming ill. Students use technology to keep track of clues that hint at causes of illnesses, form and test hypotheses, develop controlled experiments to test their hypotheses, and make recommendations based on the data they collect, all in an online environment.
The best part is that
Since the River City Project is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, access to the simulation, curricular materials, professional development, and just-in-time assistance are provided free of charge to schools
So, if you are a teacher in middle or high school, check out The River City Project and go to the MUVEES.
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