Another school year has come and gone – as has another RealWorld/InWorld (RWIW) Engineering Design Challenge, this year sponsored by the James Webb Space Telescope. I last wrote about this awesome student program in November – and since then we’ve had InWorld Q&A’s with James Webb Space Telescope project members, the presentation and evaluation of the six finalist teams’ projects – and had the winning team out to NASA Goddard to present their work and tour our facilities here.
The Six Finalists, Credit: NIA
RWIW is a terrific Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) project, developed by teacher Sharon Bowers, that allows teams of middle and high school students to solve engineering problems rooted in real life. The Real World portion of RWIW takes place in the classroom – and at the end of that unit, students can elect to move into a virtual world much like Second Life. The cool thing about the InWorld portion of this project, is that the student teams don’t have to be geographically located in the same place. In fact, when the winning team came out to Goddard to present their project, it was actually the first time they’d presented it while all being in the same room together! One of the other finalist teams had members spread out all over the US as well as a team member in Germany!
In this year’s RWIW engineering design challenge, teams chose between coming up with new mirror or a new sunshield design for the James Webb Space Telescope, as well as an associated spin-off technology. The winning team chose to develop a sunshield design, and their spinoff was a starshield.
Here are some screenshots of their presentation:
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This is the James Webb Space Telescope’s second year participating with the RealWorld/InWorld Engineering Design challenge. We interviewed the teacher behind the program, Sharon Bowers, last year, so we thought we’d do a little follow-up.
Here are last year’s winners and participants talking about their experience:
Real World In World Winners 2011 from Real World/In World on Vimeo.
This winter we have started having guest speakers from the JWST project talk to the students InWorld about the satellite and how it works, as well as the science it will do.
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Have you ever wondering why we aren’t visiting the nearest stars? Or why there are no photos of our galaxy from the outside? The short answer is that the Universe is really big. So big that even the things closest to us are really far away.
Here is a little web activity you can try if you want to explore just how big the Universe is by traveling virtually outward. Instead of using scientific notation, we’ll just keep adding on more zeros to the number of kilometers we are traveling. You can see they will really start to add up!
-> Visit the Cosmic Distance Scale! <-
Here is a screencap of your first stop, Earth!
Those of us who work on education and outreach for the James Webb Space Telescope have wanted to do an engineering design challenge for a long time. The chance finally presented itself in the form of a teacher from Virginia – and a project where students get to solve real world problems in the classroom, and in a virtual world.
This is such a novel concept we thought we’d share a chat we did with Sharon Bowers, the teacher Webb is collaborating with, about the project, and how it came to be.
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