Case Study


The Mechanical Universe (1985)


The Mechanical Universe and Beyond

The Mechanical Universe is a series of 52 programs covering the basic topics of an introductory university physics course. The series was originally produced as a broadcast telecourse by the California Institute of Technology and Intelecom, Inc. with program funding from the Annenberg/CPB Project. Each program in the series opens and closes with Caltech Prof. David Goodstein providing philosophical, historical and often humorous insight into the subject at hand while lecturing to his freshman physics class. The Mechanical Universe contains hundreds of computer animation segments, created by Dr. James F. Blinn, as the primary tool of instruction. Dynamic location footage and historical re-creations are also used to stress the fact that science is a human endeavor.

Donna J. Cox, Jim Blinn, Richard Ellison, Helga M. Leonardt Hendriks (1990) Beyond scientific visualization: mapping information, ACM SIGGRAPH 90 (pp 601 - 623 )

Jim Blinn, (1995) Designing the Mathematics of The Mechanical Universe, ACM SIGGRAPH 95 (course)

Jim Blinn, (March 1991) The meaning of Visualization : Visualization is good. Visualization is valuable. Let's have more visualization.

Tom M. Aposto (March 1991) Teaching Mathematics with computer animated videotapes, journal PRIMUS (pp 29 - 44)

Windows to the Universe (1995)


WINDOWS TO THE UNIVERSE : An Interactive Interdisciplinary Earth and Space Sciences Website

'Windows to the Universe' is launched in 1995. It is developed at the University of Michigan with funding from NASA. The site presents the Earth and Space sciences with vibrant images in an integrated and interdisciplinary fashion, developing content for multiple levels of sophistication to meet the needs of elementary, middle, and high school students.

The site can be visited in many ways: through navigation panels, tours, or CD-ROMs combined with the Internet. Throughout, navigation panels correspond to each of the site's main content: Our Planet, Our Solar System, The Universe, Myths, Art, Books & Film, Space Missions, People, Headline Universe, Cool Stuff, Data, Kids' Space, and Teacher Resources. Site utilities (Table of Contents, Help, Search, and Comments) lead to each planet and the sun. Once the user chooses a topic, another panel leads to avenues for further exploration. For example, clicking on a planet will allow user to view subtopics such as: Interior & Surface, Atmosphere, Magnetosphere, Moons & Rings, Planetary Facts, Myth & Culture, Space Missions, News & Discovery, and Image Archives. Windows to the Universe divides its archive of articles into three levels of complexity: Some can be read and understood by younger users, while others are more in-depth.

Also, users can try out the games on this site, like "Make Your Own Alien" or "Junk in Space." It has lists of space movies and related TV shows, too°™it runs alphabetically from The Abyss to the 1966 film Zontar, the Thing from Venus. This film and TV listing comes complete with cast lists, plot descriptions and links, where available, to a movie or show's official site. Also, in its art section, the Web page provides a gallery of images of famous scientists and links to poems about mythology and space.

Kerry Parker, (July 2001) Physics Education - Web Watch: Astronomy and cosmology, (Issue 4 36 348-356)

Gardiner, L.; Johnson, R.; Bergman, J.; Russell, R.; Genyuk, J.; La Grave, M. (2003), The Windows to the Universe Project: Using the Internet to Support K-12 Science Education, American Geophysical Union, (#ED32C-1227)