Edu-Amphion is a system under development that will enhance Amphion to enable students, teachers and curriculum developers to play the roll of space scientists, constructing specifications of desired observations and seeing animations of the resulting observation programs. Edu-Amphion will be invocable over the world-wide web
Currently, Edu-Amphion has been used to generate a number of scientifically realistic animations showing simulations of various solar system observations. For example, two animations show the Cassini spacecraft as it flies by Saturn and observes the Titan moon. The first animation gives the student an experience as though she/he is riding on the spacecraft and observing what the spacecraft sees. The second animation allows the student to observe from out in space Cassini flying by Saturn. These animations are scientifically realistic in that they use actual ephemeris data for the bodies in question. For instance, the example animations just described portray the actual positions of Saturn and its moon Titan, as well as planned positions of the Cassini spacecraft. The animations can be used as an supplement to a space science curriculum allowing students to explore the actual behavior of spacecraft and solar system phenomena. Ultimately, Edu-Amphion will allow students to explore a wide range of concepts in geometry and astronomy in a hands-on manner. Examples of such concepts include: why the northern hemisphere is colder in the winter than in the summer, why the moon has phases, why Venus has phases, what causes the retrograde motion of Mars (where Mars appears to move back and forth in the sky), and why Saturn's rings appear to move.
In these explorations, an individual will create specifications of desired observations using the graphical specification editor.
Edu-Amphion could be intergrated into a space science program at atleast three grade levels. First, at the elementary school level, teachers could use Edu-Amphion to produce realistic animations of space encounters. For example, when the Cassini spacecraft flies by Saturn, a teacher could develop an animation each day showing where the the spacecraft is in relation to Saturn and discuss what kinds of observations could be made of Saturn and its rings on that day. Second, Edu-Amphion could be used to teach students in junior high school geometric concepts. Third, Edu-Amphion could be used in a high school curriculum to allow students to directly manipulate in a simulation environment encounters of actual NASA spacecraft with solar system bodies.
The NAIF toolkit is an example of a mature scientific subroutine library. Such libraries reflect expertise that takes a massive number of man hours to create. Unfortunately, because of the expertise required to use them, libraries of this type are easily accessible to only a few. Edu-Amphion employs new automatic programming technology to make scientific subroutine libraries accessible to large numbers of students, teachers and curriculum developers. Using Edu-Amphion's intuitive graphical user interface and animation component, these individuals will have access to expertise in scientific subroutine libraries in a way that has never been possible before.
Last modified: Aug. 22, 2008 by Allen Dutra.