Interconnections: Revisting the Future

  • Walters, Lori (PI)
  • Moshell, Michael (CoPI)
  • Hughes, Charles (CoPI)
  • Smith, Eileen (CoPI)

Grant Details


The University of Central Florida Media Convergence Laboratory, New York Hall of Science, and the Queens Museum of Art are developing a 3-D, multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) of the 1964/65 New York World's Fair. Virtual fairgoers of all ages will be immersed in an accurately modeled historical world with more than 140 pavilions on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and an array arts and humanities exhibits. The virtual world can be freely explored through self-designed avatars, and avatar-led guided tours. Discovery Points throughout the virtual environment will afford opportunities for in-depth engagement in STEM topics that will empower participants to explore the broader consequences of technological innovations.

The centerpiece of user-generated content is FutureFair, an area where online users can create and share their personal visions of the future. Interconnections reaches beyond its virtual component through its partnership with the New York Hall of Science and the Queens Museum of Art, which are both situated in the heart of Queens in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, a 1255 acre urban park that hosted the 1939/1940 and 1964/65 Fairs. The New York Hall of Science will provide face-to-face youth workshops that employ problem-based learning. Single and multi-session programs will connect adolescents to STEM content presented at the Fair through the virtual world environment. Participants will create multimedia content for inclusion in the project's website. Multi-touch interactive stations at the Queens Museum of Art will enhance their NY World's Fair Exhibit Hall by empowering visitors to individually or collectively explore various STEM topics and the symbiotic relationships between STEM and the humanities, and by serving as an attractor for visitors to the online Fair exploration. The project will be completed in time for the 50th Anniversary celebration of the 1964 World's Fair.

Building upon prior research on learning in virtual worlds, the project team will investigate how STEM concepts are advanced in a simulated multi-user virtual environment and studying the effectiveness of using Virtual Docents as enhancements to the informal learning process. The research and development deliverables have strong potential to advance the state of informal science education, research on modeling and simulation in virtual world development, and education research. Michigan Technological University will conduct the project formative and summative evaluations.

Effective start/end date09/1/0908/31/14


  • National Science Foundation: $1,476,967.00


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