A team of developers at the Cornell Theory Center (CTC), Cornell University's high-performance computing and interdisciplinary research center, has implemented a 3D multi-user virtual science museum, SciCentr. SciCentr is a virtual world based on Active Worlds client/server technology. Related to gaming technology, and thus attractive to youth, virtual environments can be applied to formal and informal science education in areas such as genetics, as well as to language learning and social studies. In this paper, we review the current state of our understanding of the impact of this technology on informal science learning. We attempt to identify some of the advantages of using this technology, design features of our implementation, and ideas for managing the social interaction among educational users. More specifically, we will discuss pilot user experiences focused on crop genetics in SciCentr's Plant Breeding Beds and on the related SciFair exhibits, both examples of collaborative experiences in our virtual worlds. Finally, we describe the next stage in interactive interface development for our Gene Bot feature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-308
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Network and Computer Applications
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002


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