In the mid-1990s Simulation Curriculum Corp. began as a small astronomy software development house, creating applications for astronomy enthusiasts. Since that time, they have grown significantly and are now a leading developer of digital astronomy content for consumer and education markets. Their Starry Night product line revolutionizes the way teachers teach astronomy with comprehensive space science curriculum solutions that feature dynamic, visual content.
Over the past year, they further enhanced the Starry Night product line by integrating the applications with the SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Now students and teachers can interact with Starry Night using simple, intuitive gestures, such as toss, rotate and zoom, or use the navigational gestures available with multitouch operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows 7 or Mac Snow Leopard. As a result of the integration work completed, Starry Night has been awarded the SMART Board Application Elite accreditation by SMART.
Correlated to curriculum standards throughout the United States and Canada, Starry Night includes lesson plans with powerful simulation software that includes three-dimensional images. “Starry Night gives students the feeling of being in a planetarium – it’s a tremendous learning experience,” says Michael Goodman, President and CEO of Simulation Curriculum.
Even before Starry Night was integrated with the SMART Board interactive whiteboard, the product displayed well on the interactive whiteboard. When Simulation Curriculum attended trade shows, such as the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conferences, teachers who used Starry Night on SMART Board interactive whiteboards expressed interest in gaining the ability to use touch gestures within Starry Night.
“We were hearing the popular demand from teachers for touch gesture functionality, and we were already seeing it on our own,” Goodman explains, “All of us have children. We would go to their schools and see SMART Board interactive whiteboards in use and we knew that we could give teachers much more functionality by integrating our products.”
Simulation Curriculum decided to use the SMART Board software development kit (SDK) to integrate the Starry Night product line with SMART products. During the development phase, the team held weekly technical meetings. Goodman says the developers found it extremely easy to work with the people at SMART and implement updates to their application with the SMART Board SDK.
“We deal with many third-party companies and know that it can be a frustrating, difficult and time-consuming experience for our developers. We didn’t encounter any of that with SMART. It was a positive, supportive experience all the way,” says Goodman.
Simulation Curriculum demonstrated a beta version of their integrated Starry Night application at NSTA’s 2011 national conference in March. “We were able to show some of the gestures and we got really positive feedback. Teachers are comfortable with how gestures work – they know how to pinch and pull and grab. They are excited about being able to do these things with Starry Night on a SMART Board interactive whiteboard,” explains Goodman.
“For a student, being able to walk up to an interactive whiteboard and spin Mars – it is an incredible feeling. Now Starry Night gives students the ability to control and interact with space on a large screen using their fingers. That’s where the magic is between Starry Night and the SMART Board interactive whiteboard,” says Goodman.
Simulation Curriculum will be showcasing their fully integrated Starry Night product lines at the NSTA area and national conferences this fall. The success of this integration has led Simulation Curriculum to start working with the SMART Board SDK to integrate the Layered Earth product line. Layered Earth offers an interactive, comprehensive curriculum solution for teaching earth science – and soon, this product line will feature multutouch gesture integration with SMART Board interactive whiteboards.