Middle-schoolers can join in real-life science mystery
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The Smithsonian Institution and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are teaming up to send middle school students on a scientific adventure.
With help from the Heinz History Center locally, the two institutions will launch a two-month science mystery contest called VANISHED on April 4, in which students will get online and in-person clues to help solve the cause of a simulated environmental disaster.
"We know from research that kids think that scientists are men in lab coats," said Stephanie Norby, executive director of the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies.
"But science is so much more than that. We want to give kids a sense of the possibilities. We live in a world where there are big questions to answer and we have to work together to solve them. We want kids to leave this project with a sense of excitement."
Students can work individually or in teams on VANISHED by signing up starting today at http://vanished.mit.edu.
Much of the game will be played online, with a chance to participate in video conferences featuring Smithsonian scientists, who will help students understand various clues. Students also will be able to search for physical clues in 17 cities with participating museums, including the history center here.
"One of the goals of this game is for students to understand the complexity of scientific problems," Ms. Norby said. "Our scientists want to make sure that students see science as action and solving mysteries, and not memorization, to see that you're testing new ideas and learning from them."
First Published March 21, 2011 12:00 am