ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
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Phoebe's Field project lets kids handle scientific concepts

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An international team of educators and professionals based at Virginia Tech is working on giving middle-schoolers innovative ways to learn scientific concepts, such as electromagnetic and acoustic fields. Their goal is to encourage interest in science among children, especially girls. ECE faculty member Steve Ellingson is part of the team, which is led by Mitzi Vernon of the School of Architecture and Design and includes eight other collaborators.

The effort, which includes a children's book and a traveling exhibition, is called Phoebe's Field and is targeted especially for girls, who often lose interest in science at adolescence.

The exhibition will use metaphors in nature to explain complex concepts, such as electromagnetism. As they tour the exhibition, students see, hear, touch, and carry out physical activities in fields usually beyond their perception. A quest storyline captures the student's attention and focuses their interest in concepts.

Ellingson is contributing to the development of the electromagnetic field exhibit, which deals with the concept of electromagnetic signals such as those found in cell phones. He is also working on an RFID-based system that will allow new forms of interaction between the exhibits and the visitors. Visit: www.phoebesfield.org.