Presented By CyGames
Selene: a lunar construction game

Computer Students to Present Videogame Research

Date Posted: Wed Mar 12 2008

Software engineering students working on the Selene videogame research funded by NASA at the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future will present their work at their second regional undergraduate research conference.

Storm Conaway of Wheeling, WV, and Michael Phillips of Fairmont, WV, senior software engineering students at Wheeling Jesuit University, have had their student research accepted for presentation April 19 at the C-CUE Student Technology Forum at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. C-CUE is a regional association of colleges and universities committed to developing and expanding the appropriate use of computing and other information technologies in undergraduate education.

Advising the students are their instructors, Dr. Bev Carter and Dr. Ben Hitt, and Dr. Debbie Denise Reese, senior educational researcher and manager of the Selene project at the Center for Educational Technologies®, home to the Classroom of the Future™ on the Wheeling Jesuit University campus.

The students' research had previously been accepted for another conference at West Virginia Wesleyan University March 14.

The Selene videogame was created by the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future in 2007 as part of an investigation into how students can best learn NASA science through videogames.

Conaway and Phillips are developing an online assessment tool to measure learning accomplished by players of the online game. The assessment will become part of an informatics system that assesses learning and reports progress to stakeholders—researchers, learners, educators, policymakers, and administrators.

Selene was designed to help learners discover, through gameplay, how the Moon was formed and evolved. One component of the assessment will feature images of the Moon and ask players to place them in order according to time periods of the Moon's evolution. This set of tasks measures learners' understanding of the concept of stratigraphy. Additional questions will ask learners to apply aspects of Selene gameplay toward the solution of problems involving the concepts of accretion, kinetic energy, differentiation, volcanism, and impact cratering. Open-ended questions will ask learners how the Moon was formed and how it evolved.

The students' presentation will illustrate the steps of the software engineering process and its application to this unique informatics challenge. Software engineering is a required course for all computer science majors at Wheeling Jesuit University. Part of the coursework involves developing and implementing a client's project. Conaway and Phillips' work is an authentic design project that will be incorporated into a NASA-funded initiative.

Selene is a great opportunity for students ages 13-18 to learn about lunar geology while helping NASA researchers study some key videogame design principles. However, the opportunity is available only to students who have been recruited by adults.

Being a recruiter will not take a lot of time and generally will involve getting parental consent for game players, then sending the students information on accessing the game. To serve as an adult recruiter and help NASA with this important study, e-mail and be sure to provide your contact information, including a phone number where you can be reached. You can also call Lisa McFarland at 304-243-2479.