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Senior Project - Laser Mission


Interactive Drawing Tool for Science on a Sphere

Senior Project: 2009-2010
James Bailey, Brian Hallesy, Neal Robbins, Brandon Shelton and Garrett Shulman

Craft Technologies, based at the University of Colorado Boulder, interweaves computation with crafting materials. This blending can take many forms, such as the application of software to assist in the design and construction of crafts, or in the creation of craft objects with embedded intelligence. Craft Technologies' particular interests lie in education, especially in expanding the variety of children's crafting activities.

Science on a Sphere is a room-sized global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six-foot diameter sphere. Developed by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Science on a Sphere is an educational tool that has installations all across the world.

The goal of the project was to create an interactive drawing application that would interface with the Science on a Sphere exhibit located in the Fiske Planetarium and Science Center on the CU-Boulder campus. Laser Mission utilizes the concept of Turtle Graphics, a simple graphical programming language created in the 1980s, to enable users to draw lines on the giant sphere at the planetarium. Aimed mainly at children, Laser Mission's goal is to teach students about spherical geometry and to expose them to an easy-to-learn programming language.

Users are able to create "programs" that will draw lines on the giant sphere by manipulating an invisible "turtle" located on the surface of the sphere. Laser Mission's language is simple enough to be engaging for a first-time programmer, but also provides several complex programming mechanisms such as recursion and function definitions for the more programmatically adept user. These features allow for the creation of some truly complex and intricate shapes to be drawn on the sphere.

Graphical User Interface
Graphical User Interface
The Sphere
The Sphere
See also:
Department of Computer Science
College of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
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May 5, 2012 (14:07)