StarryCritters - What do you see in the sky?Grades: Informal Education
StarryCritters is a website designed for imagination and exploration. The simple premise of the site asks "What do you see in the sky? Like clouds on a summer day, star clouds turn into dragons, cat eyes, fish and other animals with a little imagination. StarryCritters is aimed at parents and children and is designed to help them explore the universe together. The website offers imagery to encourage children to use their imagination in seeing patterns in star clusters, nebulas and galaxies. Older children benefit from exploring the images in a pan and zoom interface as well. Terms, written for young readers, display on a mouse hover. Links leading to sites with more information are an asset to parents and teachers who want to learn more. All of this in an informal blog format. The blog uses Hubble Space Telescope and other orbiting observatory images with Zoomify to create an interactive experience. Zoomify is an Adobe Flash technology that allows high-resolution images to be displayed on the web without loss of detail. This encourages users to Zoom in and out and pan around the images to find their own patterns in the stars. The blog format also encourages users to share and join in the discussion through comment boxes. The comments are moderated to minimize exposure to spam comments or other comments inappropriate for parents and children. Downloads are quick and can be accessed whether users have broadband or dial-up services.
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