People - Written by on July 19, 2011

ORNL Staff Contribute to Award-Winning Educational Curriculum

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Researchers impart advice and expertise to multimedia geological program for middle school students

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) staff members contributed knowledge and support to a new geology unit of the JASON Project which recently earned a “CODiE Award” as the nation’s best science or health curriculum. Operation: Tectonic Fury helps middle school students solve geological mysteries by researching and analyzing Earth’s past, present, and future through multimedia activities. The JASON Project, a nonprofit organization sponsored by the National Geographic Society, physically and virtually connects students and teachers with researchers to provide enriching scientific experiences. Issued by the Software and Information Industry Association, the CODiE Awards are annual, peer-reviewed prizes honoring excellence in game development, software programming, and online education.

The judges for this highly competitive prize are experts from industry and academia who examined the online content for Operation: Tectonic Fury, including text, photos, technical art, games, videos, tests, and classroom handouts. Martin Keller, ORNL associate laboratory director for biological and environmental sciences, nominated Operation: Tectonic Fury for a CODiE. Virginia Dale, an ORNL corporate fellow in the Landscape Ecology and Regional Analysis Division, led one of the project’s missions in which students sampled soil under switchgrass and analyzed the samples under the guidance of Deanne Bruce and Charles Garten, both of ORNL’s Environmental Science Division. Research scientists Michael Hilliard (Energy and Transportation Science Division) and Alexandre Sorokine (Geophysical Information Science and Technology group) displayed results about the sustainability of energy crops via the 30 by 8 foot EVEREST PowerWall at ORNL. Robert Whitten, user support specialist at the OLCF, showed students how supercomputers help expand knowledge. Due to ORNL’s contributions, farming practices and planting of energy crops were included as geologic influences in Operation: Tectonic Fury. — by Caitlin Rockett