What is Whyville?
Who Visits Whyville?
With over 6 million users, Whyville is the leading education-focused virtual world for teens and pre-teens.
Launched in 1999, Whyville is a vibrant, kid-safe virtual city designed to engage young people in constructive educational activities while promoting socially responsible behavior.
Inside Whyville, citizens learn about art history, science, journalism, civics, economics, and so much more. Whyville works with sponsors like the AALAS Foundation to bring dynamic educational content to kids in an incredibly engaging manner.
Whyville represents a truly unique delivery mechanism for educational outreach. The hands-on, inquiry-based nature of the site provides a means for the AALAS Foundation to evolve from traditional outreach methods like brochures and posters to customized interactive activities that engage young minds.
The AALAS Foundation leveraged the power of Whyville to create the Community Animal Research Environment, a series of fun, educational activities in a virtual laboratory.
At CARE, Whyville citizens create habitats for animals, take on the role of an animal caretaker, and discover how animal research generated cures and treatments for ailments impacting humans and animals.
These activities stimulate curiosity about laboratory animal science and explain how it improves the quality of life of people and animals.
Inspiring the Next Generation
Research pinpoints the middle school years as a time when children, especially girls, lose their interest in math and science.
Studies suggest that exposure to engaging educational and scientific activities during this critical period can substantially influence future academic and career choices.
How Can Whyville Help Ensure the Future of Biomedical Research?
The future of animal research in the United States depends on public acceptance of the practice.
“Whyville has managed to do the impossible – generate massive interest in science among adolescent girls.”
With public support for animal research hovering just above 50%, it’s more important than ever to educate the next generation of leaders about the essential role of animals in biomedical research.
Whyville is a powerful tool the Foundation can use to promote public understanding, respect, and support for the life sciences.
What Other Organizations Sponsor Whyville?
“Whyville supports the use of computers by kids the way that scientists use computers: for data collection, data visualization, simulation and modeling, and scientific communication. The site also reflects what we know about learning communities and the kinds of interaction kids seek while learning and having fun."
Whyville is almost 100% supported by sponsors, including organizations such as NASA, Toyota, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Disney, National Science Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control.
NASA sponsored a series of simulation-based educational games on Whyville, one of which teaches the principles behind ion engines, the next generation technology for long-distance space travel. More than a million games were played in less than three months on Whyville, setting an all-time record for the use of a web-based educational activity funded by NASA.
How Will the Foundation Determine if its Partnership with Whyville is Effective?
Whyville’s database is fully instrumented to extract metrics, which can include total number of users involved, total hours involved, and depth of involvement.
In addition, the AALAS Foundation is conducting surveys of Whyville users, both before and after they participate in our games, to quantify the educational benefits of Foundation sponsored activities.
The Foundation’s ability to continuously measure the success of this outreach effort is a key reason why the partnership with Whyville is so appealing.
Is Whyville a Safe and Secure Environment?
“Whyville's great, and safe. It helped me realize what I want to do when I grow up, and the games are really, really fun.”
Since Whyville is designed for children between the ages of 8 and 15, its security system is one of the most extensive and sophisticated on the web.
Whyville’s success has won recognition from the press and consumer groups. In 2006, Whyville won an iParenting Media Award as one of the greatest web sites for children for its outstanding content and innovative safety efforts.
How Can I Help?
The AALAS Foundation relies on your financial support in order to launch important public outreach programs like Whyville.
To make a tax-deductible individual donation or corporate pledge to the Foundation, please visit the AALAS Foundation web site or contact the Foundation office at 901.754.8620.
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