Friday, August 25, 2006

Catching Up With The Solar System

CNet reports on how Pluto's demotion to non-planetary status will be felt in public schools. It's an interesting angle on a popular story:

No matter how quickly a publisher can roll out new editions of its earth science, astronomy, or general science texts, tight state educational budgets complicate the situation. A state's department of education will typically order new course materials every five or six years, said David Hakensen, vice president of public relations at Pearson Education. Since Pearson has no plans to offer physical updates to its existing texts--such as stickers or supplemental pages--the states that ordered new science textbooks for the impending academic year most likely won't be getting new, eight-planet versions for another half decade.
Wikis, websites, and other online media, the article points out, are much more nimble in absorbing such information. "With few other options, textbook publishers are also leaning on the Internet to deal with the Pluto demotion through online lesson plans and course supplements."

Aimee Weber's Second Life-created Tour of the Solar System is a great example of how new media can be used to communicate information in the sciences. Weber, a graphic artist who has designed SL clothes, the much-publicized virtual American Apparel storefront, and many other SL projects and has recently become something of an SL activist, created the video using virtual props set up in a model solar system layout, then filming her creation as she moved through it.

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