Java-based Learning Portal for Schoolchildren

Exhibit portal of the Science House as Learning Portal for Schoolchildren

Opened in 2007 at the Europa-Park in Rust the Science House aims to get children into natural sciences and technology. Over 80 exhibits invite visitors to touch and experiment with.


As wrap-up and for a deeper immersion into the topics in class the Science House commissioned an exhibit portal. This was realized as project studies at Hochschule Furtwangen University, an integral and distinctive element of the bachelor studies in OnlineMedia. Over the course of two semesters we conceptualized and developed a learning portal in a team of five students.


At the end of the project we had created a fully functional prototype of a learning portal with built-in CMS functionality. Learning for our student team was immense but unfortunately the Science House at the Europark in Rust closed down at the end of 2010.

Concept and Functionality

During the first semester our team focused on the conceptual design of the portal. Each account is assigned a level geared to class level and school type. That way it is possible to cater for various age groups and levels of knowledge with differing texts. Users are able to create personalized PDF documents choosing exactly which content they want to have included. Questions that are not satisfactory answered through the built-in search function can be submitted to be answered by the Science House team. This user-generated content at the same time helps to add relevant content over time.


Besides the didactic concept I was primarily in charge of developing use cases and the relational data base model during this project phase.


Relation data base model for the exhibit portal of the Science House

Web Development in Java EE, Spring and Hibernate

In the following semester the portal was developed using Java EE, Spring framework and Hibernate. My role was amongst others the dynamization of static HTML-templates, the development of controllers and data layers as well as the integration of iText for dynamic PDF generation.


One requirement of the Science House was the ability to update the complete content without programming skills. For usability reasons administration functions were integrated as far as possible into the normal user interface with advanced options in a side menu. Situated in the border triangle the Science House expected many visitors who do not speak German. Multi-language ability was therefore considered from the very beginning. Texts are administered in resource bundles to allow for easy changes.


Through an agile approach additional functionality could be added in the course of the project. For example a Wikipedia importer was realized that extracts the titles of all German Wikipedia articles and automatically links to relevant articles for further reading.

Agency // Furtwangen University

Client // Science House

Year // 2007 - 2008

Role // Conceptual Design and Web Development