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NASA Launches Educational Website

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the soon-to-be-stifled-by-political-edict dept.

74

Rob writes to tell us Computer Business Review magazine is reporting that NASA has launched a new educational site targeting children in kindergarten through fourth grade. From the article: "The website aims to appeal to both parents and educators wishing to help develop children's knowledge in subjects such as science, technology and mathematics. [...] 'Our goal with the Kids' Club is to provide a medium that encourages children's interest in exploring the subjects important to developing early skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,' said Angela Phillips Diaz, NASA's acting assistant administrator for education."

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Does this work? (3, Insightful)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094145)

Interactive games on the site teach children about exploring space, building and launching rockets, keeping airplanes on schedule and how a comet travels through the solar system.

Not that I don't appreciate NASA attempt, but does anyone know of any studies showing the effectiveness of computer games on learning? Both my experiences as a student and now as a science teacher tell me they are a worst of both worlds solution. Too much reading/obvious attempts to educate to make a fun game, far too shallow content to make a good lesson.

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]

Re:Does this work? (2, Funny)

totalbasscase (907682) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094163)

Interactive games on the site teach children about exploring space, building and launching rockets, keeping airplanes on schedule and how a comet travels through the solar system.

That's exactly who I want teaching my kids how to stay on schedule. The federal agency that can't get a space shuttle in the air more than once every couple of years.

While we're at it, let's have the DoD and the Pentagon start an educational website to teach our kids how to shop around and get the best deal on toys.

Re:Does this work? (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094177)

So you'd rather have J Random Redneck teaching about space, or the people who actually put things there?

Re:Does this work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15094192)

Looking by the design, it's most likely that J. Random Redneck actually wrote the content on the site. Truly decent scientists and engineers with teaching skills would never produce shallow materials like them.

NASA EP/O works like that, though. They don't know much about science and engineering based on my past experience...

Two Words... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15094216)

I feel that Math Blaster and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego taught me a lot when I was younger. Even if it didn't actually teach me that much (I don't disagree with you that educational games are somewhat shallow) it did show me that learning can be fun. Even now computer games are helping me, I'm learning Spanish by playing the Spanish version of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. So while games are no replacement for formal education they certainly help the process.

This man is right. (1)

Davey McDave (926282) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094268)

Three words: Mario is Missing.

Re:Does this work? (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094597)

does anyone know of any studies showing the effectiveness of computer games on learning?

Does anyone know of any studies showing the effectiveness of sitting in rows in a room with a teacher and blackboard at the front of the class on learning?

Hey, thats a hypothesis :)

I was a geek when I was a kid and did not know it, and my dad one day brought home a few of NASA Spinoff publications. They still exist, info here: http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/ [nasa.gov]

I believe I had 1976-1979 or so. Its an annual publication, and I learned about the space shuttle before it was ever launched. I learned about the NASA "smart home" which was an experiment where a family lived for a year in an ultra-efficient home that used solar water heating and electricity, semi-recycled the "grey water" into the toilets and whatnot. Those are the only two things I remember from it, but I'm sure it had basic aeronautics and material science in there as well.

I guess the publication was not geared towards 9 or 10 year olds, but I liked sitting up at night reading it. The only downside was that it came out only annually.

Ah, the beginnings of a geek.

My Attempt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15094858)

I made an attempt at a teaching tool a couple of years ago, recently I've started on a new version. My idea is just to provide a very tangible model of the solar system and let the user explore.

I'm not completely sure what direction I should take the new one in yet, perhaps someone could give me some feedback?
I'm thinking about improving the 3D, but I might also include stars...

This is the original one:
http://gunn.co.nz/arthur/planets.swf [gunn.co.nz]
It has some more sophisticated functions, as you see here:
http://gunn.co.nz/arthur/planets2.swf [gunn.co.nz]

This is my under-development one:
http://gunn.co.nz/arthur/planetsNew.swf [gunn.co.nz]
It's currently completely keyboard controlled - arrow keys, O, L, M, +, -, and SHIFT as a modifier.
Note that you can drag the planets within their orbits - it's like clockwork (easier in simple mode - press M).

-Arthur

Re:Does this work? (1)

Geekbot (641878) | more than 8 years ago | (#15103767)

I'm still looking for studies on this. In my opinion, it does work, under some circumstances. I think it mostly depends on two things. 1) That it is done under supervision with guided instruction. A kid should know what he is learning and how he's accomplishing the learning. But this is true of just about any lesson. 2) Instant feedback. The answer is that kids don't need learning programs to be like video games with fighting and shooting. Kids need learning programs to be like video games in that they give you instant feedback when you succeed.
Lots of programs have activities that do this, Study Island, BrainPop to some extent, Starfall is excellent under supervision.
I think it's important for us to realize that the teachers can't be content experts on everything a student is asked to learn, but that they need to be process experts that can direct students how to discover the information they need. I know that sounds a little jargony and very constructivist, but I think it's absolutely true. When almost anything can be looked up in minutes or seconds, it's more important that we teach the children how to organize and analyze in different situations they might encounter.

ah, to be young again (-1, Offtopic)

Josh teh Jenius (940261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094150)

1986 was a fateful year for me. I was a 6 year old living in the Chicago suburbs, giving serious thought to the whole "what do you want to be when you grow up?" paradigm.

I wanted to work for NASA, that is until...well, I'm not going to make fun. You know.

After that tragedy, I figured I would go play 2nd base for the Cubs. Then we lost to the Mets. THE METS!

Looking back, is it any wonder I ended up a hacker?

P.S. What *DO* I want to be when I grow up? Maybe a fireman...

Re:ah, to be young again (4, Funny)

barefootgenius (926803) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094219)

Ahh yes.

* To harness the power of the sun (sorry ants).
* Set both your hands on fire making rocket fuel.
* Discovering electrolysis in your bedroom (sorry Ma, I was seeing if it was explosive).
* Gravity testing with a homemade parachute (sheet (ow!)).
* Inertia testing 101 (train vs tree).
* How much dynamite did it take to fell a tree? (not much).
* Why are elements red? (to support the people who make bandages of course).

I wanted to be either a Ranger, an Astronaut, or a Scientist.

I predict this site will bomb. There appears to be no explosives.


Geez! (0)

Kagura (843695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094152)

Launch a probe already, Nasa!!

NASA? (1)

aurb (674003) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094235)

If you want a probe launched - go to Mexico. They can put a whole whale on the Moon just for $200.

Re:NASA? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094381)

Yeah, but considered how the whale is not in the rocket but behind/under it, rather than a whale it's a huge piece of coal that'll land/crash on the moon :). But that's still a good quality/price ratio

Pushing children toward private ventures (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094158)

It seems to be that the best thing NASA could be doing now is trying to raise a generation that has the drive and vision to make private space ventures work. NASA itself is in trouble, we hear about that on Slashdot all the time (and Klerx's Lost in Space [amazon.com] is a good introduction to its problems). NASA should begin phasing out the shuttle program, instead pushing funding towards more educational ventures such as these. I wonder, though, if the age group targeted here (kindergarten to 4th grade) is too young; focusing on adolescents who are soon to enter university, graduate, and then take part in aerospace ventures would possibly result in faster results.

I should mention that though I have my complaints about NASA, and many here are quick to tear it apart with vitriol, I think that for the time being it is the only force for robotic exploration of the universe. Private firms will be profit-driven, which for the time being means transportation from point to point on the globe, mining, and near-space tourism. Only an agency like NASA, not concerned with generating huge amounts of revenue and appeasing shareholders, would currently dare to send a probe to Pluto, for example. There is still room for encouraging children towards NASA's endeavours.

Re:Pushing children toward private ventures (2, Insightful)

David Hume (200499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094172)

It seems to be that the best thing NASA could be doing now is trying to raise a generation that has the drive and vision to make private space ventures work.
Very idealistic. However, few organizations have a purpose of putting themselves out of business.
I think that for the time being it is the only force for robotic exploration of the universe. Private firms will be profit-driven, which for the time being means transportation from point to point on the globe, mining, and near-space tourism. Only an agency like NASA, not concerned with generating huge amounts of revenue and appeasing shareholders, would currently dare to send a probe to Pluto, for example.
Why only for "the time being?" Won't the reasons you give for NASA doing space exploration (as opposed to tourism, business, "transportation from point to point") always going to remain true? That is, that private firms "will be profit-driven," "concerned with generating huge amounts of revenue and appeasing shareholders?" These things are going to change over time?
There is still room for encouraging children towards NASA's endeavours.
Didn't you just say that NASA should try "to raise a generation that has the drive and vision to make private space ventures work?"

Re:Pushing children toward private ventures (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094176)

Why only for "the time being?" Won't the reasons you give for NASA doing space exploration (as opposed to tourism, business, "transportation from point to point") always going to remain true? That is, that private firms "will be profit-driven," "concerned with generating huge amounts of revenue and appeasing shareholders?" These things are going to change over time?

Eventually very distant trips like Pluto will be profitable. For the time being, however, they would not be attractive to private ventures, and this is where NASA is still valuable.

Profitability of trip to Pluto (1)

David Hume (200499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094188)

Eventually very distant trips like Pluto will be profitable.
Why?
 
The usual answer (actually, speculation) is that there is some raw material there that we need, and as the cost comes down the trip will be worth it. What? Coal? Oil? Diamonds? Dilithium?
 
But if the cost has come down to that point, what raw material could we possibly need or want so much to make the trip worth our time, if nothing else?
 
Tourism? On Pluto?

Re:Profitability of trip to Pluto (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094380)

Tourism? On Pluto?

Sure, as soon as Disney gets Plutoland built.

Re:Pushing children toward private ventures (1)

klik (93694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094248)

Surely, a smart government agency would want to work towards reducing the costs for the 'day-to-day' stuff. If private space access firms appear, the cost of transportation to and from orbit and the development of the technologies involved will drop over time, which is to NASAs advantage. They end up with a number of suppliers they can outsource to for basic transportation, and they can devote their resources to the exploration and scientific missions, rather than the basic 'getting in to orbit' stuff.

Re:Pushing children toward private ventures (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094813)

Very idealistic. However, few organizations have a purpose of putting themselves out of business.

I'm not sure how many people know what goes on at NASA, but they have already put themselves out of business.

NASA is now more or less a mismanagement organization. Give me a second before you stop reading and hit the flamebait button. NASA for the most part is old. Very old in terms of technology. Most of the equipment they have is 20 to 40 years old. Because of the 8-10 year budget threats, they don't have many direct employees anymore, but instead they pay more for outside contractors to do their work for them, and the NASA people manages them. There is tension between the two camps. The "real" NASA people are paid less than the contractors, but they have chips on their shoulder, because they are "real" NASA people. The contractors have a psychological disadvantage because the reason they are contractors is so that NASA can get rid of them at any time. Its difficult to get rid of a government job once its formed, so they have renewable contracts that can be terminated at the end of any given contract. The "real" NASA employees pretty much stay at NASA. There are not a bunch of fresh minds and ideas that come into the agency, and it shows because they don't do much new stuff anymore. They used to do space stuff, and had a number of new programs. Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, then Space Shuttle, then ???? OK, there is/was the International Space Station and Hubble. ISS is/was a flop. Hubble is supposed to be decommissioned. The Space Shuttle keeps blowing up, and its 1960s and 1970s technology. Its currently 2006.

Some of my views are a little skewed because my local NASA center is the ghetto of centers. It used to be important back in the days of the Mercury and other programs, but Johnson moved most of their responsibilities to, hmm, the Johnson NASA center in Texas. Gotta love those arrogant Texans.

Personally, I believe that NASA should focus on the first A in their name. Aeronautics. Humans are worse off hanging around in space than they are here on earth underwater. People don't have too much interest in exploring and living underwater despite the fact that most of the planet is covered in the stuff, and people even like water. Waterfront property is about the most expensive that there is. Why people are interested in living in space, which is similar but worse than living underwater is beyond me. Just ask Kevin Cosner :)

So, aside from satellites and telescopes and things like that in space, I don't see to much interest for us land people to go out there much anymore. Aeronautics too is pretty much done. I mean, we can fly pretty fucking fast. The SR71, which is 1970s technology hauls ass.

So, I guess that like land travel, the only thing is in more efficient or better energy requirements. We can already haul ass on land too, but its not cost effective.

Bah, my ramblings on a Sunday morning.

Re:Pushing children toward private ventures (1)

plunge (27239) | more than 8 years ago | (#15095447)

for ($pork;$American_people != "rubes" ;$pork++)
{
print "We have to have the space shuttle because how else are we going to fly people to the space station! We have to have the spacestation because otherwise the space shuttlewouldn't have anywhere to fly to!"
}

Games, not necessarily scientific education (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15094166)

Upon looking through the website and I must say I'm disappointed.

It aims to teach space science and technology through playing several interactive games and quizes. For example, at the highest level (5th), you are asked to "guide a comet" by getting nine trivia questions about the Solar system. Ok, it's probably good to know that it takes 365days for Earth to orbit around the Sun. But would that be truly thought provoking? (it might teach kids a method of elimination by logic, I admit).

I just wonder what these people think as "scientific" education here. Knowing some stupid trivia about planets so important to become a scientist or an astronaut?

Teaching science requires more than trivia or memorization games. The key is to make students think with logics. Maybe logic is too much for K-5, well, ok, then let them discover something by playing instead. Like gravity! The kids don't need to know the law of gravity. Just create a java applet that let you play with the mass of the Sun and let the kids adjust its mass to see what sort of effect the planets would see. Or, do the orbiting rocket. Let them "see" what happens when a rocket vehicle tries to catch up on another rocket ahead of it. By "catching up" the rocket behind the second one ignites its booster to "move faster". Let the kids see what would happens to the rocket when it's gone faster. It'll show them the intricacy of astrodynamics!

The main problem on these NASA's EP/O is that the director / designers of the site often do not know what "science" is. I don't mean to single out Angela Diaz (wife of Al Diaz, who got canned from Goddard/NASA, I believe), but she's been known as manager, not exactly a teacher. Give real teachers the budget and make a better site than this, I would dare say!

[I apologize for my rant. I'm just tired of these craps NASA produces these days.]

Re:Games, not necessarily scientific education (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094317)

The uh, Airplane Puzzle on grade five is a simple logic puzzle..

Re:Games, not necessarily scientific education (1)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094396)

I hope NASA didn't spend more than a few hundred bucks on this site, but as a designer I know what some people will charge for the shoddiest work, and it makes me want to hang my head in shame.

I wouldn't be surprised if this site was put together by a placement student (intern) from a multimedia design course, who didn't seem to have much to do at NASA and someone gave them this project to do. The site is full of so many basic HCI mistakes that it makes me wonder if it wasn't even an intern but a high school student who put this thing together. And the use of sound is SO fucking annoying.

It makes me mad to see Flash abused like this, when people see a shitty, annoying, pointless (and badly drawn) site like this it demeans their perception of Flash as a serious authoring environment.

Also what's with the shitty URL? Couldn't someone be arsed setting up nasa.gov/kids ? Probably someone realised their mistake and wanted to 86 the site as soon as possible. Well they're on slashdot now and deserve to be ripped a new one.

Lady and gentlemen of Slashdot, do your worst.

Just create a java applet... (1)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094415)

Good ideas. Go for it! (or at least, send them the ideas, instead of posting them to slashdot, where they'll probably never be seen by the right folks at NASA...)

I vaguely remember seeing some orbital sim applets on some university web site. Maybe there is some reason why they can't be snarfed by NASA. Or maybe the NASA folks don't think kids can hack this stuff. Maybe I'll start a new web site to gather up this stuff. Who's with me?

Re:Games, not necessarily scientific education (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094439)

I had a tough choice to Mod Up or comment. I hope someone else will give +mod for an insightful comment. I agree, for even as an adult I would enjoy playing those types of "games". Even better, as a programmer I would love to write them, but lack the physics (even Newtonian) to master the code.

I loved Physics in High School, wanted to major in physics in college, but after half a semester I understood I was not cut out for that science. Instead I found my passion in programming and have made a good career in it for years. I still am fascinated by physics and at times have tried to write programs that would simulate trying to land on a planet (I know it's been done, but I wanted to write my own), or fire projectiles at each other (same as before), or duplicate a very cool game I remember from my HP3000 days where a missile was fired from a spaceship and you have to gauge the gravitational effects of "planets" as it bent the missile's path toward the enemy ship.

Well all this memory rambling is meant to say that if you know the formulas then write the programs you mentioned and broadcast them on the web. If you don't know how to program but know the formulas post them on the web so guys like me can write a program. Hell it took me half a day of mental wrangling and searching to get my firing a projectile program to work. I got mired in the end by trying to figure out how to take into effect mass/weight/density when the same force is applied.

Anyway, great thoughts; just take it the next step and inspire someone to help write those programs, submit them to NASA and show them how much better they will be then trivia games.

Re:Games, not necessarily scientific education (1)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094477)

I think (as many have stated already) NASA knows its in trouble. I took a look myself and honestly, I feel kind of bad for them.

* They have no money to launch missions
* They have no (significant) money for R&D
* They have no money to hire the brains it takes to overcome problems they face
* They have no money to hire managers that can bring in projects successfully

Even though they remain operational they are kind of crippled. They just don't have the money to do the stuff they were created to do. So all they can really do now is tinker with what is already deployed and come up with cheaper ways to do more unmanned explorations ..

So its no doubt that an outreach program is being formed. Regardless of your opinions on green house gases, conservation, over population, etc - any reasonable person must realize somewhere in the back of their mind that we aren't too far away from out growing our space rock. We need NASA to work.

Of course they're reaching out to kids , those kids will be graudating from college right around the time that most of their funding finally gets cut off if current trends continue.

I wonder why they did not partner with educators *first*. Remember that old movie 'space camp' ? I think more hands on experiences would serve the purpose better - however those cost quite a bit more and you have to bring the kids there. Science + Economics just don't mix, and they're going about the science OF economics the wrong way, any logical person would.

I hope we don't see E.T. santas this year standing next to the Salvation Army guys holding out astronaut helmets riging bells - but if they don't get funding soon from somewhere that's where it could be headed.

Re:Games, not necessarily scientific education (2, Interesting)

plunge (27239) | more than 8 years ago | (#15095430)

Well, they have had most of their real science stuff gutted so that they can put on pointless shows of heroism to impress our dear leader.

I mean, wtf is up with missions to the moon and mars? Mars is an interesting destination, but for robots. People whine about how a human being there could do so much more, but they forget that the robots we've been able to send so far all had to be EXTREMELY tiny and simple because they had to fit into a very tiny payload. If you were actually going to send human beings to Mars, you'd have to use a HUGE payload size. And for that same size, you could send tons of really powerful and complex robots that could do far more per the space they take up than two guys, their toilet, food to turn into poop, beds, tons of water to turn into urine, and entire return trip worth of fuel, spacesuits, tons of oxygen, an entire re-launcher system to get home, playstation, and so on. Not to mention a ridiculous amount of EMPTY SPACE to give the people room to move around in.

All a total waste. All so that George Bush can promise something dramatic that has no real purpose, and probably won't even really happen anyway.

And for that, NASA has had to gut tons of small, VERY cost-efficient programs that have actual scientific merit. It's insanity of the highest degree.

Re:Games, not necessarily scientific education (2, Insightful)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094708)

Ha!

Obviously someone who didn't go through the American education system. The whole system is like that and I hated school because of it. 13 years of boring busy work. I distinctly remember my first experience with school (preschool) and how incredibly moronic I thought it was for us to sit around and cut pictures out of a magazine that related to some topic. The whole time I was thinking "What, do they think we are stupid?" I was 5 or 6 years old at the time and it was a harbinger of things to come...

Re:Games, not necessarily scientific education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15095006)

Wow...you're so smart and cool

Re:Games, not necessarily scientific education (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094900)

This has been a major peeve of mine for a long time. There seems to be an assumption on the part of educational program designers that the proper way to make science palatable to kids is to dress it up as a cartoon and have streams of half-truths spew from the mouths of furry animated characters. That may be entertainment, but it's unlikely to spark the kind of inquisitiveness that will lead to an active interest in science or mathematics. So much so that, like you, I wonder whether the people that create (or approve) these materials have ever had such an interest themselves.

A good way to determine how best to ignite an interest in science would be to ask actual scientists what it was that initially got them interested in figuring out the Why and How of things. I'll bet that most of them could give a pretty detailed accounting of that, and I'll bet you further that few, if any, of them were smitten while watching watered-down educational cartoons.

In our increasingly theocratically-leaning society (writing from the US), it would also help a great deal if more of the public had a basic understanding of what science actually is. Unfortunately, to far too many it's just a collection of arbitrary doctrines and proclamations issued by a lofty elite of men with beards. As such it's in competition with other such collections (e.g., from priests and ministers), and the choice boils down to little more than faith and personal credibility. If science has any edge at all in this game, it's simply that its magic works better.

Re:Games, not necessarily scientific education (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094991)

A good way to determine how best to ignite an interest in science would be to ask actual scientists what it was that initially got them interested in figuring out the Why and How of things. I'll bet that most of them could give a pretty detailed accounting of that, and I'll bet you further that few, if any, of them were smitten while watching watered-down educational cartoons.

Honestly? Most would probably say either, "I don't know, I've just always been fascinated by ___," or, "Well, one day I kind of lucked into ___."

This is going to sound kind of brutal, but the truth is, most kids probably aren't going to get interested in science, and there's nothing we can do to change that. They will, if we're lucky, get interested enough in the results of science -- everything from pretty Hubble pictures to new medical treatments -- to continue supporting the people who do the actual work. But science is hard, and it involves lots of that icky math stuff, and the people who do it are, you know, nerds. Good luck with getting any more than a very small minority of kids to put in the time and effort, and make the social sacrifices required, to become real working scientists. Ever. Meanwhile, the quiet, smart ones will keep on studying, keep on working, and eventually turn themselves into the adults whose labor will change the world.

Re:Games, not necessarily scientific education (2, Interesting)

Edzor (744072) | more than 8 years ago | (#15095090)

just looking around the site, it is all depressing lowest common denominator. but that's federal education schemes for you!

  on the "kids'" homepage there is also a weird video of Dubya doing a live linkup with the last Shuttle Crew[?] which actually depresses me even more. he waffles off some crap about the "importance of their mission" and "how proud the folks are", then the mission commander spiels off the latest BS NASA press release.

  NASAs manned mission has sadly lost its way and is rapidly turning into a joke. what happened to the NASA which wasn't afraid of taking risks and pushing real boundaries. the astronauts which you aspired to be as a kid........."important missions" my left ass cheek, the last thing a manned mission did which was of an real use is fixing Hubble!

  While the unmanned missions plods away doing the real science and exploration with none of the kudos or more importantly funding.

sigh, i know sound like a broken record and I have read the same stuff on /. a million times.

Who's signing off on the content? (0)

klenwell (960296) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094191)

The scientists or the administration apparatchiks?

Finally! (2, Funny)

Null Nihils (965047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094194)

A site that uses Flash animation and cheesy sound clips for a good reason: To amuse 6-year-old children!

Re:Finally! (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094375)

Flash, its not just for 6 year olds.
I recall at least 2 occasions when flash amuses and informs all the 6 year old adults here on slash.

(for the curious, the hitachi perpendicular song [hitachigst.com] and the Super Villians Linux fembot thingy [ubergeek.tv] (link appears dead atm though))

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15094218)

It would appear as though the masterminds at Nasa have shown us their brilliance! The very last puzzle at skill level 5 with the airplanes was so complicated, they could not solve it either, and made the computer generate a random correct answer every single time, even though the puzzle itself is always the same.

Re:Hmm (0, Troll)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094323)

please tell me you're joking.

NASA = disinformation (-1, Troll)

xiando (770382) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094226)

When NASA reciently released a information brochure on chemtrials http://en.xiando.org/Chemtrails [xiando.org] , Ellyn at http://www.chemtrailcentral.com/ [chemtrailcentral.com] described it as "This proposed teaching lesson to the children of the world from NASA, found on Acrobat Reader, is NASA's attempt to promote the BIG LIE that chemtrails are nothing more than contrails, resulting from increasing air traffic.".

I strongly encourage everyone to view the excellent documentary Chemtrails - Clouds of Death downloadable from http://torrentchannel.com/The_Freeman_Perspective_ -_Chemtrails [torrentchannel.com] and also, please do your own reserach and thinking. Search http://www.google.fr/search?hl=en&q=chemtrails [google.fr] and read about this important subject and then compare what you find with the NASA disinformation http://en.xiando.org/Chemtrails#NASA [xiando.org]

You will, if you do your own research and thinking, find that NASA deliberately makes and spreads disinformation and lies to cover up and keep information of great importance from the public. I'm not saying they do not tell some of the truth some of the time, but please be aware that you can trust them about as far as you are able to throw a car.

But remember... (2, Insightful)

Simon Garlick (104721) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094230)

Whatever you do, don't mention climate change or poof! there goes your funding.

Sid Meier's Civilization (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094685)

Catestrophic climate change could be the basis of, or a feature in, an excellent game.

In Sid Meier's Civilization [wikipedia.org] , if you didn't carefully manage your power plants, you could easily toast the planet. It was great for gameplay, as even if you had defeated all military and economic foes, you still had to contend with the detritus of your success.

Re:But remember... (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094910)

Best to stay away from biology and geology as well, these days...

NASA? (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094242)

Our goal with the Kids' Club is to provide a medium that encourages children's interest in exploring the subjects important to developing early skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,'

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but isn't it the school's job to get kids interested in developing early skills in these things? Why are NASA, an organisation with the mandate to perform aeronautical and space activities [nasa.gov] , filling in for the education system?

(d) The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:

  1. The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;
  2. The improvement of the usefulness, performance, speed, safety, and efficiency of aeronautical and space vehicles;
  3. The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies, and living organisms through space;
  4. The establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes;
  5. The preservation of the role of the United States as a leader in aeronautical and space science and technology and in the application thereof to the conduct of peaceful activities within and outside the atmosphere;
  6. The making available to agencies directly concerned with national defense of discoveries that have military value or significance, and the furnishing by such agencies, to the civilian agency established to direct and control nonmilitary aeronautical and space activities, of information as to discoveries which have value or significance to that agency;
  7. Cooperation by the United States with other nations and groups of nations in work done pursuant to this Act and in the peaceful application of the results thereof;
  8. The most effective utilization of the scientific and engineering resources of the United States, with close cooperation among all interested agencies of the United States in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, facilities, and equipment; and
  9. The preservation of the United States preeminent position in aeronautics and space through research and technology development related to associated manufacturing processes.

I don't see "10. Make sure American kids aren't dumbasses when the education system drops the ball" on the list.

STFU Amerinigger (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15094252)

Go back to Ameriniggerstan!

Re:STFU Amerinigger (2, Funny)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094305)

I see the NASA story has brought out all the rocket scientists.

Re:NASA? (2, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094405)

I don't see "10. Make sure American kids aren't dumbasses when the education system drops the ball" on the list.

That's because it's 0, a prerequisite to make 1-9 possible in the long run.

Re:NASA? (1)

tengennewseditor (949731) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094581)

Education is pretty fucking important to anyone involved in the economy (which is to say, everyone), and saying "Why is XXX filling in for the education system?" is pretty much sticking your head in the sand. NASA needs the six year olds of today to be educated so they have a pool to draw from 15-20 years from now.

I mean, jesus christ, you are basically criticizing an organization for trying to educate simply because they are not a school. Why?

"Kids' Club" (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094256)

What an original name. Kudos, NASA.

-:sigma.SB

NASA Launches Educational Website (4, Funny)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094276)

to which orbit ?

What a worthless educational website. (4, Interesting)

gameforge (965493) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094292)

This is the wrong format to use for teaching basic level content like this. As others have pointed out, it's really easy basic stuff... one of the high-level (5) screens is like "Which of the following gives heat and light to the Earth?" Options: Moon, Sun, or Neptune. Fourth graders?! That's 9 and 10 year olds.

Teaching this stuff isn't that difficult without using a website anyway. My elementary education was sufficient that by sixth grade I was very interested in astronomy, and was able to use the Internet to satisfy my curiosities; there were already flyby pictures of Io (Saturn moon) and from Venera 13 (Soviet Venus Lander), IIRC, on JPL's website in 1994 or 95. I didn't have Internet access in elementary school (and neither did my school), but I do vividly recall some astronomy projects I did in 2nd or 3rd grade; it went a lot deeper than "the sun gives off heat and light to the Earth, but Neptune and the Moon do not".

If NASA wants to get involved in education, they should actually get involved with schools. Think how other effective government sponsored education campaigns for reading & whatnot have worked. Think about how companies like TI, Yamaha, or Apple have gotten involved with math, music & computers. And they manage to make money in schools! Could NASA not benefit from some other funding besides taxpayer dollars? Especially since there's already other taxpayer dollars delegated to education...

Either way, a cheesy flash site with multiple-choice edutrivia is pretty worthless. Saving for telemetry engineers or something would have been a more worthwhile way to spend the money.

Re:What a worthless educational website. (1)

Crisses (776475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094482)

I have children - one of whom is in the target age range and who is playing Zoo Tycoon as the LOWEST (age) level game he plays with any real interest, which includes long descriptions of animals, their group habits, constructing their habitats, and whether they're headed towards extinction or not. It also is pretty demanding on the budget level, which helps my child learn that everything has a price, and sometimes LOWERING the entrance fee is more profitable than raising it. He's learned some ancient mythology from Age of Mythology, and the names of several gods, which as an eclectic pagan I suppose I should be grateful for -- maybe. And I'm certain he's learning something, but I'm not sure WHAT, from DDR (yay, exercise during the winter! and something resembling coordination), the Sims (somewhat realistic scheduling and housekeeping maybe?), and Neverwinter's Nights (um -- I'm sure I can come up with something constructive....). He goes into the authoring/mapping environments in games that allow it and tinkers on the god/universe/dm side whenever possible as well.

The quality of the games for level 5 that NASA has is a game of concentration with about 20 cards. How would my child be engaged with that? A game of trivia to "help a comet get to the sun" -- why would a comet WANT to go to the sun? Duh!

NASA should fund a real gaming company to have an interesting factual space adventure game created. Something on the level of Masters of Orion in graphics and planetary maps -- a strategy or sim game involving astronauts, space exploration, and where the facts about each planet really MATTER to the exploration teams or scientists. Send little robots to explore the surface of the planets. What shielding do they need? How will they get their power recharged? Can you time it so your little robot is always on the sunny side of the planet for solar energy? How will the tiny guy deal with the wind? Can your project stay on schedule and within budget?

That would draw ME in much less my kids. We're suckers for a good strategy or sim game. If it involves currency of ANY type, my child is instantly facinated with overanalyzing the ways to deal with and exploit the local economy, even if it means selling every item in the Sim's house and making them live outside without toilets :P heh.

In essence: Don't give us facts, make us use them. That's a major law of learning.

NASA Rocket Science 101 (4, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094372)

Lesson 1: How not to confuse Metric and Imperial units

What About NASA TV (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094397)

Nothing more entertaining than NASA TV, this site is totally redundant. On NASA TV you can enjoy incredible features such as:

- an astronaut spending half an hour getting ready to pee in space
- demonstrationg of an astronaut writing on a paper in space
- an astronaut in space flies around in zero gravity
- an astronaut approaches another astronaut in space and they play with water in zero gravity
- an astrounaut talks with earth control staff about football
- an astrounaut reads shuttle equipment manuals in space (!!!)
and a lot more, only on NASA TV!

Dislaimer: I've nothing but admiration for those guys, they show us what mankind is capable of and I wholy respect that. I mean, playing with water in zero gravity, that's cool right? Ok.. ok...

Re:What About NASA TV (1)

slightlyspacey (799665) | more than 8 years ago | (#15096487)

- an astrounaut reads shuttle equipment manuals in space (!!!)

Astronauts once selected will train for a particular mission for about 10 months or much longer - it's not that unusual, especially when EVAs are involved, to start training a year and a half for a mission. So why should they need to read equipment manuals/checklists in space when they should have everything memorized?

The answer is safety. NASA strongly discourages its astronauts from memorizing things like checklists and other safety critical procedures simply because there is too much risk of forgetting to do something or not doing something in the proper order and not coming back alive. So as mundane and boring as it may be, the crew still has to follow the written procedures/checklists.

Just so this response isn't completely off-topic, I do have a fundamental problem with NASA spending large sums of money on "educational programs". Programs designed to get kids interested in science and math. As pointed out in a previous post, that is not central to NASA's mission. The excitement that comes from NASA going about its business of space exploration should be enough to encourage students to pursue involvement in the space program. If that means taking science or math or computer science courses to reach that, then so be it. But these are means to the end, not the end itself.

Presumably regarding Blue Rings around Uranus? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15094506)

Couldn't help myself

NASA Looks More Like FEMA These Days (1)

chromozone (847904) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094728)

A few years ago I noticed that whenever I saw NASA people on television or in pictures they looked "soft and pudgy". They often had that pasty, overweight, bureaucratic aura of decay about them. It seemed to me that the rugged individualists that characterized NASA in earlier days had passed the torch to baby-boomer pod-people types - all form and lacking in substance. This sort of "educational program" is just the sort of thing a feminized, moribund, nanny state bureaucracy would conjure up. It's like a town that saw it's heyday and is left with an economy of tourism based on days gone by.

NASA, stop focusing only on elementary school kids (3, Insightful)

Octorian (14086) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094776)

That's right... It seems like NASA is full of education initiatives that cater to younger children. Children at that age tend to be easily interested in all sorts of new and exciting things, and don't need NASA's help. The problem is that they'll likely lose any and all interest once they get to an age where they can actually steer their future.

I think NASA should focus much more on grades 9-12, where the goal actually is to prepare oneself for college and ultimately a future career. This is the critical time when we're loosing interest.

Re:NASA, stop focusing only on elementary school k (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15096978)

They do have something for grades 9-12, and even for 5-8 graders and college kids. Just go to http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html [nasa.gov] (their homepage) and click on the little thing that says "For Students."

Are they required to do this? (1)

ChePibe (882378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094840)

Does the U.S. require departments/agencies to create some kind of kid-friendly website? I'm not 100% sure, but a lot of government agencies with no real interest in them seem to have them.

Just take a look, the Defense Intelligence Agency [dia.mil] has a "kids' site", the CIA has a kids' site, the [cia.gov] NSA [nsa.gov] has a website, and even the State Department [state.gov] has a kid's site where you can learn exciting things about SecState Rice meeting Elmo...

Sure, some of them have a little bit of recruiting-type material on them, but most of it links back to the "grown-up" site and I've yet to meet a 4th grader who wants to be an analyst or diplomat when he or she grows up. There's a fair amount of "say no to drugs" material as well, which makes sense in any case.

I wonder if there's legislation somewhere requiring all government agencies to put up a kid's site. My money is that yes, there's some requirement somewhere for this. It's the only possible explanation for some of these exceedingly lame [cia.gov] websites - they just gave them to an intern or flunkie to throw together real fast to meet regulations.

Obligatory European Link (ESA) (2, Informative)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 8 years ago | (#15094841)

FYI

ESA Kids [esa.int] (in 6 languages :-)

ESA Highschool [esa.int]

About the only thing NASA can Launch these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15095014)

A website...

Good idea but GCompris still better (1)

xarma (916256) | more than 8 years ago | (#15095044)

That's sad they did nothing inovative here. They use the classic matching pair over and over again. There is a lot of thinks a software can be usefull to help children. I can continue working on the educational software GCompris [gcompris.net] .

BBC site rocks (2, Informative)

SenseOfHumor (903349) | more than 8 years ago | (#15095049)

I have personally found the BBC site much better for kids. I have seen my kids playing around arranging planets in solar system [bbc.co.uk] and a pretty neat simulation of planets orbiting when you are done. And also their science page [bbc.co.uk] is really good for all ages.
When I first saw the planet jigsaw puzzle(the first link), I searched in NASA sites and could not find a single site. Each lab seemed to have a different page of their own but didn't find them interesting.

My kids camp out on the prehistoric games of animal evolution, sea creature etc., [bbc.co.uk]

Nasa website (1)

Richard Frost (18848) | more than 8 years ago | (#15095093)

Well, I guess with the shuttles being grounded, they had to launch _something_.

[ducks]

NASA Launches Educational Website (1)

craXORjack (726120) | more than 8 years ago | (#15095196)

...for adults to probe for signs of intelligent life in cyberspace. Unfortunately one team working on the project was using the EB information capacity units defined as the data stored in one set of the Encyclopedia Britannica while the other team was using the more standard LOC units defined as the amount of information held in the US's Library of Congress. Just as the engineers were ready to celebrate a success, the server overheated and burnt up, and is now believed to be lost in the vicinity of a Sun SparcStation. A little brother website for children was saved from the same fate through some quick programming changes, but some in Congress are calling for a commision to look into this latest in a string of failures.

An effort, but is it useful? (2, Insightful)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15095250)

It's admirable to try to get students interested in science, but I don't think that's going to happen until a major change of some kind occurs. Not that it was ever "cool" to be a smart kid, but it seems like intelligence is more actively discouraged with kids these days. Here's the problems I see with science's image today:

1. Older kids aren't stupid. They see their techie parents losing jobs and having their salaries cut because people half a world away work for a lot less and have a better work ethic in most cases. Given those facts, would you work your butt off in school and grad school for years on end to end up with a low-paying job, if you could find one?

2. Kids also see that getting an MBA or a law degree is an instant ticket to success with much less hard work. Against that, science doesn't have a chance with anyone but the most hardcore types.

3. For whatever reason, schools don't seem to be attracting the world's best teachers. I had some really excellent math and science teachers in my school career who got me interested in the material. Unless you have a really good teacher in an intro. science class, you'll never enjoy the subject.

4. I'm probably going to piss off a lot of people now, but the trend towards religious fundamentalism in the US really hurts science as well. Religion and science don't mix. When enough of the religious crazies get into powerful positions, projects don't get funded. Examples of the problem are the whole evolution debate, stem cell research, etc. Until we get a moderate base of elected officials in office again, this will continue.

I don't know what it will take to fix the problem, but anything that can be done is better than nothing!

NASA self promotion (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15095545)

NASA puts too much effort into marketing itself. Their marketing budget should be cut. They shouldn't be in the education business at all.

If the Shuttle and ISS programs weren't on the verge of collapse, this might be allowable. But NASA needs focus, not marketing.

Education (1)

CSfreakazoid (873190) | more than 8 years ago | (#15095944)

I find it interesting that NASA is trying to do all this education stuf, yet they cut their biggest educational program, Summer Internships. You can still do an internship at NASA, but they have stopped paying interns, so nobody will work for them. I spent the last to summers doing an unpaid internship at NASA's JSC being told that this summer I would be paid. So their choice to spend money developing this educational website is rather annoying, Here's and idea, hire summer interns to develop this website, that would have killed to birds with one stone in the education department.

Educational Global Climate Modeling (1)

HoneyBeeSpace (724189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15095989)

EdGCM [columbia.edu] is the Educational Global Climate Model, a NASA climate model that has been ported to run on Mac and PC with a GUI interface. Download it and it comes with default climate simulations (modern, global warming, paleo, etc.). Or you can design your own climates!

Kid's report (1)

fatcat1111 (158945) | more than 8 years ago | (#15097065)

I just showed this to my kindergarden-aged daughter, and she wants to know why they didn't make it fun.

From the Outside Looking In. (1)

ebresie (123014) | more than 8 years ago | (#15099727)

Okay...I see many people questioning the viability of this site. They view them as too simplistic or not up to snuff. Most of the people that read /. are educated individuals to which a majority of these games seem pointless ("Oh everyone should know that"), but these types of opinions are a disservice to those that are not educated or do not have the foundation to draw the proper conclusion.

I only looked at the first one, but this quiz/game appears to attempt to get the student/player to be able to identify patterns based on the surroundings. This seems like a perfectly viable teaching aid to start out with.

It is silly to try teaching college algebra to someone who doesn't even know their numbers yet.

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