Astronauts 'N' Arithmetic

What do math, robotics and space have in common with modern gaming technology? A lot, say the members of Project Whitecard, one of the start ups in the Eureka Project Smartpark’s business incubator program here on Fort Garry campus. The small business recently won a large contract from the Canadian Space Agency to develop an out-of-this-world new product to teach math in 60,000 elementary and high school classrooms across Canada. Project Whitecard are specialists in the field of “serious gaming”. They apply the interactive, multiplayer environment of video games to products for space exploration, health training and education purposes. For their latest endeavour – an international partnership – Project Whitecard will immerse students in the space robotics environment, enabling them to take control of a virtual robotics system while teaching them age-appropriate math concepts. Enhancing the experience will be three-dimensional graphics of the Canadarm, Canadarm2 and the International Space Station. Canadian astronaut Julie Payette – who is the robotics lead for an April 2009 space shuttle mission – also be featured.
Project Whitecard founder and CEO Khal Shariff , a Black Hole Theatre alumnus, U of W ISSD 2006 graduate, and business manager Don Fraser are thrilled at the opportunity.
“Students will be able to control their learning environment while taking math education to a whole new dimension,” says Shariff.
“Over the next few months the challenge for our team will be to create a specific curriculum-based product that is fun and engaging to students and educators alike.”
Project Whitecard also produces Project Moonwalk, a science education game featuring Apollo and constellation missions. Shariff has participated as a speaker for several NASA outreach projects.

Tamara Bodi [BA/90]
OnManitoba Magazine, December 2008