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​Alexandria

Introduction

The Alexandria project is a RINWORKS project to build an interactive system that contains a kernel of knowledge that, arguably, most people should be familiar with and ideally internalize. Far from attempting to be encyclopedic, we emphasize fundamental concepts and processes that govern life on earth and define the human condition.

This system will be designed for formal and informal education (grades 6 and up) and for independent study.

All content and supporting software will be made freely available via a creative-commons license. Therefore, we will typically use no content licensed from 3rd parties. All content is either original content commissioned by us or taken (with attribution) from the public domain. Similarly, all software will be open-source, either created by us or by 3rd parties. All content will reference authoritative sources, which are either articles from well-established peer reviewed journals or well established text books that have gone through multiple editions.

Approach

  • Pick a small set of topics that will serve as scaffolding one can use to relate other knowledge one comes across in and outside the classroom.
  • Create  "global" content that arguably is universally important across the planet, as well as (selectively) additional "local" content that is relevant to a particular region.
  • Wherever possible enable active content that encourages exploration and discovery. This includes interactive visualizations, simulation models and data sets available for exploration through user-written software scripts.
  • Integrate memory aids (spaced repetition/flash cards) into the system.
  • Integrate computational thinking into the system - enable users to  write scripts to access, process, transform and visualize all content.
  • Enable users to create and share their own "stories" that capture their exploration into the content as well as their own personal additions to content.
  • Provide reference classroom projects that uses the system, along with mappings to school curriculum topics (common core, IB and AP).

Topic Areas

  • Significant people, events, places, ideas and inventions in the development of humanity.
  • Earth system history including geology and the development of life.
  • Statistics on the human condition including life styles and mortality.
  • Global biogeochemical cycles - how energy and key elements transform and move around the planet.
  • Movements of material, energy, goods and services.
  • Topics in biology, including molecular and cellular biology, diversity of life and the human body.
  • Physics and chemistry - enough to be able to support discussions in other topics.

Cross-cutting Topics

  • Mathematics and computational thinking (via user programming).
  • Art and aesthetics.
  • The origin and transformation of key ideas and inventions over history.

Next Steps

  • Come up with criteria for picking key people, events and places in history.
  • Assemble topic lists.
  • Create/commission minimal content for each topic.
  • Wire-frame the initial interaction experience and the programming experience.