Last updated: 23.02.11

Online learning resources used for sci-fi mystery event

E-learning technology will be utilised as part of a science fiction interactive event for children.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Smithsonian have joined forces to create Vanished, a sci-fi mystery game intended for 11 to 14-year-olds who will play along by using online learning tools, USA Today reports.

"It's an event that doesn't involve the kind of middle-school science which I think is tragic, like memorising words in boldface type," said Smithsonian geologist Elizabeth Cottrell, adding: "That is not what science is at all."

The purpose of the game is to speculate the cause of a fictitious environmental disaster and players will be asked to collect real data to substantiate their hypotheses.

Children involved in the event will have the opportunity to address their questions to real scientists through online videoconferences.

A National Science Foundation grant contributed towards the eight-week programme, which will begin in April this year.

An exhibition entitled The Art of Video Games will explore further how video games can benefit education and skills training when it is held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC next year.