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Michele Dutcher
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Virtual World

by Patricia Todd

The planets played out their celestial orbit and revolved in varying spinning time spans, individual and separate movements, yet the whole was as if a cosmic orchestra was playing and plucking at invisible strings, creating a varied and lustrous pattern on the inky sheets of space. Twirling in their revolutions and dancing in patterns and movements of their own accord yet divinely inspired acting as one.

"That's it, now zoom out a little," she intoned towards her class. 

The Kuiper belt came into view, and arced across the screen. Glittering and scintillatingly colourful, this well observed chart of space was a favourite of her pupils, the whole class never failed to gasp at the wondrous immensity of this particular tract of space, although thousands were on their stellar curriculum.

The class's plasma screens instantaneously displayed their every tap on the keyboards, each one modified for optimum use by the pupil's digits, as the class composed of varying species: This was an elite Academy of superior intellects creamed from the initial class groups in the known star systems, and as such they enjoyed the best that science and tutoring were available.

Many and varied were the material objects at their disposal, but they acted as one - this student body of Academicians - when a project was set. This was their main learning experience and it was as exciting to hear the brief described to them as was the organisation, grouping and progressive development of the project in hand. Some projects were short and had as their main purpose simply to flex the students' minds in certain directions, honing specific skills, whilst other projects were longer term and demanded teamwork, creative thinking and a recognition of individuals' special qualities which could all be exploited for the greater good of the whole. 

This synergistic objective of the Academy produced strong bonds between the individual members of the project groups and they often remained firmly bonded to each other throughout their time in tuition and afterwards when they were selected and appointed to their ranked positions in the stellar corporations. A lifelong bond was sometimes forged, brotherhood and sisterhood producing fine sparring partners, forever pushing the boundaries of challenge and enterprise. 

And in some instances, a pair bond developed, which, whilst carefully monitored, was quietly acknowledged as something to be treasured, and left to gently develop over the years of their training and beyond that, who knew ?

Proliferation of the best was a goal too.

But let us zoom back a little: These students were nth graders and had not yet achieved full maturity but were still discovering the delights of space exploration, and not all of the star systems were familiar to them. In due course there would be a round of tests to ascertain each student's accrued learning and which would be assessed by assigning each student an individual Project. This would be an exercise to test all of their skills, their memory, ingenuity, creativity, teamwork and cunning. This last element may seem like a slang term, but was essential, as you'd have to think like the adversaries that you'd encounter in the Test Project: A virtual world of friends and foes - all to be recognised and dealt with appropriately.

            This form of mental agility was first recognised as a great and productive learning exercise way back, aeons in fact, but the species that 'played' with these virtual games, used them purely as entertainment and not for serious mental development and acute dexterity was not a prized objective in those pre-historical times.

Brief for Musical Spheres: To create a self perpetuating heliocentric system that requires little intervention. Timescale - no less than 5 billion years. There will be no collaboration on this project and assessment will be in the form of chemical and physical robustness of the model in question.

Project Members : Alpha, Boson, Omega.

2013-01-26 23:00:11
lanopulosnick -

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