TITLE: Imagine the Universe!

ACCESS: http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov

As noted in the welcoming statement on its home page, the Imagine the Universe! Web site from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics will serve the needs of both the general public and students aged 14 years or older. Much of the astronomical information contained in this Web space might also be appropriate for community college and university student audiences, as well as for 6th-12th grade teachers, college education majors, and higher education faculty. The site is logically organized, and the home page's layout and navigation scheme make Imagine easy to navigate. A search engine and lengthy site map add to the ease of use. The site's functionality centers around several information-packed main sections, many of which lead to valuable ancillary subsections. The "Science" section contains dozens of introductory articles on a variety of topics, from the electromagnetic spectrum to the solar corona. The "Advanced Science" subsection offers longer, more complex articles on topics such as black holes, white dwarfs, and pulsars. Many articles and pages contain hypertext links that display a definition of the word or phrase linked from the "Imagine the Universe! Dictionary." The dictionary consists of approximately 300 clearly defined terms, many of which contain links to high quality images and further information within the site.

One may post questions to NASA scientists in the "Ask a High Energy Astronomer" section, which includes a considerable archive. "Exhibit Central" showcases a variety of current online exhibits at NASA such as features on scientists, QuickTime videos of star activity, and satellite exhibits. "Teacher's Corner" includes links to posters and activities booklets, and to lesson plans with whimsical names such as "Lotto or Life: What Are the Chances" (about the probability of life elsewhere in the universe) and "Detective Digit and the Slap Happy Computer Caper" (about using the binary number system). This section includes a link to the excellent NASA Space Education Resources Directory, from which you can browse and search the Web site by grade level or by topic. The "Satellites and Data" section links to articles on x-ray, gamma-ray, and cosmic ray satellites and missions; each contains a historical timeline of events related to these areas. One of the few annoying details of the site, the visually pleasing but graphics-intensive home page, weighs in at approximately 240K and can be slow to download. Forgetting this minor detail, Imagine the Universe! will enhance the teaching and learning experience for a wide variety of teachers and students.

John Creech
Central Washington University

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