November 19, 2005.
Teaching real-world science skills to middle schoolers is the aim of Windward: Outsmart the Weather in A Race Around the World, a free, new Internet game demonstrating the educational power of digital content and broadband technology.
Windward, an initiative of Cable in the Classroom, in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Discovery Education, and The Weather Channel, targets middle school science students, but it is meant for adults and children to play together, at school, at home, or in other learning environments.
"We know that when U.S. students reach middle school, their science performance begins to decline, and that's a loss our competitive society cannot afford," said Helen Soule, Ph.D., executive director of Cable in the Classroom. "Windward is the kind of motivating, interactive digital learning experience that demonstrates an engaging way to teach students how to use data analysis to solve problems and learn important scientific -- especially weather -- concepts."
Windward pits players' navigational wits against challenges such as tricky currents and developing hurricanes and thunderstorms. The route around the globe consists of four legs, and players will confront two weather challenges on each leg.
To calculate how to overcome or avoid the hazards, players have multiple tools at their fingertips: online reference books on weather and sailing; weather, air, and water conditions; and a laptop loaded with information in the sailboat's cockpit. In addition, they can seek the guidance of expert sailor and marine navigator Bill Biewanga to plot their course. Players can invite others to race at the same time.
The object is to complete the journey swiftly and safely -- and to beat the world record of 71 days, achieved on May 3, 2005 by Dame Ellen MacArthur, a renowned 28-year-old yachtswoman from Great Britain who encountered icebergs, mountainous seas, extreme weather, and a near-collision with a whale on her solo circumnavigation.
To supplement the Windward learning experience, players have access to a multimedia resource library full of materials about sailing, weather, and navigation, including video clips, graphs, historical essays on past circumnavigation attempts, and nautical music and literature.
"Windward is an example of what's possible now and in the future, using broadband as a tool of teaching and learning," said Dr. Soule. "Learning tools look and act differently from ten years ago, and ten years from now it's difficult to imagine just how powerful and flexible they will be. Technology and digital content are changing learning, making even the most complex subjects accessible and engaging."
Highlights from Windward include:
* The ability to interact with the content in meaningful ways, in different directions or sequences, at any pace;
* Multi-sensory content, including video clips from Discovery Education and The Weather Channel, helping players to make wise choices and amplifying the learning experience;
* Extensive teacher and parent sections offering ideas for using Windward at school and at home;
* Accessibility for players with disabilities, including functionality to support screen readers, alternative text formats, and captioning of embedded video.
To learn more about or to access Windward, visit http://www.ciconline.org/Windward.
The third in a series of free, online, interactive learning modules from Cable in the Classroom, Windward: Outsmart the Weather in a Race Around the World joins eLECTIONS: Your Adventure in Politics created in 2004, and Shakespeare: Subject to Change, developed in 2003. All three are accessible at http://www.ciconline/broadband.
Cable in the Classroom (CIC), the cable industry's education foundation, works to expand and enhance learning opportunities for children and youth. Created in 1989 to help schools take advantage of educational cable programming and technology, CIC has become a leading national advocate for media literacy education and for the use of technology and media for learning, as well as a valuable resource of educational cable content and services for policymakers, educators and industry leaders.
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