What Makes for an Even Better “Scientific-Non-Fiction" Sequel? - Guest Blogger, Tom King


Greetings, folks!

Guest Blogger Tom King here today.

I’ve always enjoyed reading or watching science fiction. “A Canticle for LeibowitzCanticleis one of my favorite sci-fi novels. Like “Groundhog Day”, the theme is do it over until you get it right. I loved the movie series, “Star Wars”, too, where “the right Force made much better right”…if you know what I mean. I’m not sure myself. While “sci-fi”is often fun to read, it’s the non-fiction that augurs change and progress.

A few days ago, I was watching a CNN Breaking News headline: “Space probe scores a 310-million-mile bull’s-eye with comet landing.” Later photos showed Philea, a scientific probe, after many years in the heavens, bounce and land safely on a craggy comet, all of it sparked by a NASA signal sent into space some 5 years ago. Comet Landing 1Click on the photo on the right margin for more information.

In addition to my wonder at all these many, incredible NASA happenings, I am struck by how feeble my own memory would be if I were instructed to recall today something intricate given to me 5 years ago. I can’t handle much of yesterday. Technology today depends on yesterday. Tomorrow depends on what happens when today becomes yesterday. To paraphrase Isaac Newton almost 500 years ago, “Technology today stands on the shoulders of yesterday.”

What’s all this got to do with RE@L? Here’s what: RE@L Inc today stands proudly on the shoulders of MECC, a 1970’s K12 software publishing company that was an international leader, bringing Oregon Trail and a host of other highly effective software to teachers and kids everywhere. It worked so well because MECC created tested software and provided a host of other supplementary resources that made it work so well in the classroom. MECClogoBecause of that model, today’s RE@L team is comprised of several software leaders who were on the original MECC team. They have been joined by a new team of software experts.

The RE@L secret is that they are using the same successful model of design, create, test and provide software. We call them apps instead of software today. Bottom line it causes teachers to smile and kids to have fun while learning. In a nutshell, RE@L still practices what MECC preached: “Yesteryear informs today, and today informs tomorrow.”

Yes, it’s a simple, non-trivial statement, but it’s true and RE@L now has the same high-quality, precise signals MECC sent forward to RE@L from 50 years ago.

REAL3 It works now, because it worked then and we’ve adjusted it for the needs of today. 300px-Opening_crawlEven more good news is coming, folks.

New products are on the RE@L design table that will excite today’s kids even more than Oregon Trail did. More will be learned. That’s where the even more exciting “Future” comes from….from 50 years ago and now in “galaxies far, far away”…..

If you have any comments or questions click on the globe below!


Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.

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