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SIGGRAPH: Overview of Projects at Educators Program

We take a look at the toy and game projects being showcased at the SIGGRAPH 2006 Educators Program, which covers the research, methods, and techniques in aspects of computer graphics and interactive technology education.
The SIGGRAPH 2006 Educators Program covers the research, methods, and techniques in aspects of education at multiple learning levels. "Computer graphics and interactive technology are playing an increasingly larger role in education," stated Marc J. Barr, SIGGRAPH 2006 Educators Chair from Middle Tennessee State University. Similar sentiments were expressed in the ACM SIGGRAPH Sandbox Symposium panel "In the Trenches: Game Developers and the Crisis of Creativity," moderated by Jason Della Rocca, Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). Numerous education-related interactive technology projects are present at SIGGRAPH 2006, including: - The JASON Project: The JASON Project, publisher of multimedia curricula for middle school students, is developing a next-generation online system for teaching and learning standards-based science content. - Interactive Toys: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab has been investigating new multi-modal interactive toys and interfaces that utilize gesture and the sense of touch to improve interpersonal communication, education, and access to digital information. Children use these toys and interfaces to create musical sculptures, interactive jewelry, dancing creatures, and other artistic inventions, and, in the process, learn important math, science, and engineering concepts. - Virtual Environment for Learning Sign Language Mathematics: Purdue University has put together a new immersive 3D learning environment to increase mathematical skills of deaf children. The application teaches mathematical concepts and American Sign Language math terminology through user interaction with fantasy 3D virtual signers and environments. The program can be displayed in immersive devices and includes a gesture control system comprised of a pair of pinch gloves and a six-degrees-of-freedom wrist tracker. - Augmented-Reality for 21st-Century Skills: From the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Reliving the Revolution is a model for considering how augmented-reality games can support necessary 21st-century skills such as interpretation, problem-solving, collaboration, identifying biases, and using multiple sources. It takes place in Lexington, Massachusetts, the site of the historic Battle of Lexington. Participants interact with virtual historic figures and items, which are triggered by GPS to appear on PDAs, depending on where they are standing on the battlefield. Participants receive different evidence depending on their role in the game (Minuteman soldier, Loyalist, African American soldier, or British soldier), and use it to decide who fired the first shot in the battle. - Graphics Teaching Tool: Out of Brown University, a new interactive graphics teaching tool (GTT) addresses the needs of students who are not pursuing technical degrees but need basic graphics principles. The GTT is a Java-based application (and applet) that offers 2D and 3D graphics in a single environment. It is expressly designed for teaching and uses a mental-model-based pedagogical approach not found in commercial graphics software. - Shapes Program: The Shapes program, based out of Oregon State University and supported by Soapbox Mobile, Inc., allows kids of all ages to create their own interesting and compelling 3D scenes. By subtly weaving Cartesian coordinates throughout the program, the kids learn about X, Y, and Z (without even realizing it).

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