Area 16 is the newest - and final! - area at Project HappyChild.
So, why have a "science" area? Curiously, this one was planned from the very beginning (back in March 1998) ... but finding the right content to put here was harder than expected :)
What we were looking for was something that defined what things *are* - what an "atom" is, or what "molecules" are. Any parent reading this will know the infinite variety of questions kids raise on "what is ..."
The problem is, as soon as you answer one question, other factors get mentioned ... and you then have to explain what *those* are.
What we wanted on the site here, was something that provided "endless explanations". So a definition about molecules (say) would have links to explanations about all the things that are relevant to "molecules". Not just to the things that the explanation about "molecules" mentioned ... but also to all the *other* things to which molecules are relevant.
We knew it must be possible to create such a resource - but we tried, about four years ago (2006-ish) and couldn't figure out enough of the programming to "make it happen". Three years later (having in the meantime created in 2007 the programming to forward-link and back-link the huge [and incredibly popular] Pokémon area here) we tried again ... and this time it *worked*.
However, behind what you see on the science pages is an incredibly-powerful mysql database. The first 180,000 or so cells were filled in *by hand* (so a loooong process). Clearly that wasn't going to be viable if the science area was to "grow" as fast as it needed to. The programming would make it grow "organically" ... but entering each cell by hand meant it would take something in the order of a thousand years (quite literally) if the data entry continued at that rate.
So, we built an "interface" (to be able to put in information direct to mysql, without opening up the database each time). This was "better" (programming the interface was also very challenging! and quite time-consuming) but it *worked*, and we could input "a whole row [50 cells] at a time". So we were looking at maybe twenty years, instead of a thousand, to put in all the content.
... but then fate stepped in, in the shape of a very experienced programmer called David Booker, who created ways to accelerate all this. Instead of putting in "one row [50 cells] at a time", he made it possible to input "20 rows at a time". Of course it's all a little more complex than that, but effectively it meant that we could be looking at "about a year" (instead of 20), for actually being able to get all the planned content into the mysql.
The first basic data went on line for 3D gridbuilding, on 24th May 2009, and the second stage (with the 20-rows-at-a-time inputting facility) went up on 28th September 2009. So we were hoping that the inputting might be able to be completed about a year from then, ie by (around) September/October 2010. That wasn't a bad estimate :) we actually completed the input of all the basic content on 28th November 2010, fourteen months later.
Currently the science stands at 3600+ pages (backed by over four million cells on the mysql database) - and the way of forward-linking and back-linking all the information is completely unique. There's still more content to be added - info about the individual "elements" - but the pages on line are now all fully integrated, finally :)
The astonishing daily levels of visits to the Pokémon area demonstrate that we have many, many lateral-thinkers amongst our visitors. Kids these days grow up thinking laterally, because the games they play require that. But textbooks are "linear", in straight lines, and they don't cater in the same way for the multi-lateral thinkers of the new generation. Creative minds need to be able to "think in all directions" - the Internet is good in that things like "wiki" set-ups link "forward in all directions" - but they don't link "backwards in all directions" too.
However, 3D Gridbuilding DOES. Just choose any theme at random - eg "metals" - and explore the "FORWARD LINKS" (to items mentioned in the definition itself) - then try the "BACK LINKS" (below the definition), which are to other definitions that mention the item you first started with. It's a completely-holistic way of learning - and the definitions are cleanly-worded to give teenagers the 'bare bones' they need for exam wording, whilst (by means of the links to and from related content) giving them the context they need to fully understand the defined item and how/where it "fits" within the overall picture.
Our thanks go to Ben Mills who has created electron diagrams for the first 20 elements - like the oxygen diagram here.
The main index page for Science is here - and the main A-Z index starts here.