PASADENA, CA–(MARKET WIRE)–February 08, 2007–Numedeon, Inc., creators of Whyville.net, the leading educational virtual world for children and young teenagers, has developed a site for NASA´s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that offers kids a virtual field trip around the famed lab. The micro-world is accessible via the JPL website http://virtualfieldtrip.jpl.nasa.gov.

Numedeon, Inc. and JPL are working together to raise and enrich students´ awareness of JPL and space exploration before they take a physical tour of JPL facilities. JPL´s Virtual Field Trip site uses Numedeon´s expertise in engaging young learners, gained through the creation and management of Whyville.net. This new site is an avatar-based virtual world built on the same software engine as Whyville.net.

The purpose of the Virtual Field Trip is to familiarize students with some of JPL´s goals, missions, and activities and enhance their actual "in-house" experience. On the site, a virtual tour guide takes visitors through the JPL Space Museum, the Mars Exploration Rover Lab and the exciting Mission Control Center where they play an interactive game simulating the process of managing and communicating with JPL´s many spacecraft exploring the solar system and beyond. Visitors can also collect virtual souvenirs of celestial bodies and share them with one another. In 2006, approximately 15,000 students and teachers from school districts around Southern California visited the facility.

JPL is a NASA center located in La Canada, California, managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology. JPL currently has spacecraft and instruments spread across the solar system. As a part of NASA´s Vision for Space Exploration, JPL has designed missions to explore the Earth and outer space along with robotic missions exploring the Moon, Mars and beyond.
"We are very pleased that JPL has decided to use Numedeon´s virtual world technology to provide future visitors an opportunity to explore and understand JPL´s science and missions before visiting the lab itself," said Dr. James Bower, CEO of Numedeon, Inc. Dr. Jennifer Sun, President of Numedeon, Inc., who coordinated this project, added, "We expect the virtual field trip will greatly enhance young learners´ interest in JPL, as well as the quality of their experience during their real life field trip. We also expect that many visitors will return to the virtual site to continue their experience even after their real life visit."

Numedeon, Inc. is based in Pasadena, California and specializes in the design of virtual worlds for education and interaction. Approaching 2 million registered users, Numedeon´s virtual world for tweens, Whyville.net, is one of the leading educational sites on the internet. Whyville.net includes a NASA supported WASA (Whyville Aeronautics and Space Administration), hosting a number of different activities related to research activities at JPL. Other sponsors of activities in Whyville include the J. Paul Getty Trust, Toyota, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. In 2006, Whyville received iParenting´s award as the best website for kids, including the designation as best in class for its safety features. In addition to Whyville, Numedeon also operates a virtual avatar-based world for medical professionals at the University of Texas Health Science in San Antonio. The JPL site is the third virtual world built on Numedeon virtual world technology.

Future plans to expand the site include adding more locations and games for students to explore.
Visit the virtual field trip on the Internet at: virtualfieldtrip.jpl.nasa.gov.

About Whyville

Whyville (http://www.whyville.net) is the leading educational virtual world for boys and girls, ages 8 to 15. For eight years, the site has successfully created an environment that engages children to learn while having fun. Inside Whyville, "citizens" learn & play, socialize & recreate, govern & earn, write & design, eat & dance, and much, much more. Numedeon, Inc., Whyville´s parent company, develops virtual worlds that promote learning through interactivity and engagement. Numedeon´s founders are scientists, who combined research experience in neuroscience with education expertise from the internationally recognized Caltech Pre-college Science Initiative to conceive an innovative way to harness the power of the Internet for the purpose of engagement and education. In formal education parlance, the education in Whyville is designed to be hands-on, inquiry-based and constructivist, embedded within motivational settings among peers.

About the Author:

eSchool News