Saturday, June 27, 2009

SEDL to help NASA with Web site

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Austin nonprofit SEDL has received an $80,000, four-year grant to evaluate the development of an educational Web portal called MyMoon: Virtual New Media Environments for Lunar Space Exploration.

The evaluation is funded by the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences-2008 program, which is part of the Education Public Outreach for Earth Space Science division of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration.

The Lunar and Planetary Institute is developing the MyMoon portal to engage 18- to 35-year-olds in lunar science and research. The site, which is set to launch in July, will provide facts about the moon and space, lunar research and mission data, and information about NASA’s plans for lunar exploration and habitation. It will also include media exhibits, downloadable images, news, events and opportunities for the public to interact with lunar scientists and educators.

Over the course of the four-year grant, SEDL will advise NASA and the Lunar and Planetary Institute so they can better understand their target audiences and how they are using the MyMoon Web site. SEDL will do this by surveying target audiences, testing the site for usability and conducting focus groups.

“It’s a nice change of pace to work with a project targeted to young adults and to examine the community-building process in a social networking environment from the ground up,” said Cheryl Harris, a program associate at SEDL, formerly Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. “Finding ways to do research with a virtual audience and finding out what online features foster good interactions will also be a great learning experience for us.”


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