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Campus News in Brief

Project helps teach children in rural areas across China

According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon’s Mobile & Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies (MILLEE) Project, mobile phone-based games could provide a new way to teach basic knowledge of Chinese language characters to students in underdeveloped and rural areas of China.

The results are based on a study that examined two specific mobile learning games. The preliminary tests were conducted with rural children in Xin’an, part of the Henan province in China.

“We believe that the cooperative learning encouraged by the games contributed to character learning,” Matthew Kam, an assistant professor in the School of Computer Science’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute and the MILLEE project director, said in a university press release. “The results of our studies suggest that further development of these games could make inexpensive mobile phones important learning tools, particularly for children in underdeveloped rural areas.”

As a part of this project, MILLEE researchers analyzed 25 traditional games played by children in China to identify different aspects of the games, including cooperation between players, songs, and handmade game objects. They then took these results and applied them to the development and design of the two educational mobile phone games used in the Xin’an study.

Students help in creation of animation for ABC show

The design team of the ABC network show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, recently approached Carnegie Mellon for help in creating a segment for an episode. Students and faculty from the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) were asked to work with ABC over the summer to create an animation of the demolition of a Hamburg, Pa. house for an episode that aired yesterday at 8 p.m.

“Usually on the show, they send the family away on vacation for a week and the first thing the design team does is tear down the old house in some spectacular way,” ETC master’s student and team member Freddie Sulit said in a university press release.
“This particular home, however, has historic value because it was built out of logs that were over 300 years old.”

Rather than taking the usual route of destroying the home, the cast and crew dismantled the various components of the home, attempting to salvage and reuse available materials.

Instead of the usual demolition footage, the show’s design team imagined turning the transformation of the home into an animated fairy tale with the family as the main characters.

The team who created the show’s final animation included a producer, director, five artists, and three consultants.