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Seventh grade health classes are traveling back to the late 1800's to solve health problems
Seventh grade health classes are traveling back to the late 1800’s to solve health problems affecting the residents of the fictional town of River City. Based on authentic historical, sociological, and geographical conditions, River City is besieged with health problems. Students work together in small research teams to help the town understand why residents are becoming ill. Students use technology to keep track of clues that hint at causes of illnesses, form and test hypotheses, develop controlled experiments to test their hypotheses, and make recommendations based on the data they collect, all in an online multi-user virtual environment (MUVE).
 
Developed and maintained at Harvard University and funded by the National Science Foundation, River City is an interactive computer simulation for middle grades science students to learn scientific inquiry and 21st century skills. River City has the look of a videogame as students interact with the community through their avatar (computer user's representation of himself/herself) but contains content developed from the National Science Education Standards, National Educational Technology Standards, and 21st Century Skills.
 
Bringing these 21st century skills and technology to address the 19th century problems of E. coli, malaria and tuberculosis, students will sample and record data from many locations, conduct experiments, test their hypotheses, and write a research report in the form of a letter to the “mayor” of the city (a real scientist at Harvard) with recommendations based on experimental data.
 
The software talks to servers at Harvard that collect students’ data, notebook entries, conversations, and final reports. A final classroom presentation helps answer the question: “Why it is important for scientists to share research?” Pre- and post- student surveys assess changes in attitude toward science, whether classroom-based situated learning transfers to “real-world experiences”. For more information visit http://muve.gse.harvard.edu/rivercityproject/ or email Linda Armstrong at larmstro@cnyric.org
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