Archive for August, 2011

Virtual Climate Masterpieces

There are times when you’re impressed, and times when you’re really impressed. Seeing the completed student productions at the Digital Wave Family Event was one of those times you had to be really impressed. During the 2-week Digital Wave Summer Academy, high school students learned about climate change while also gaining 3D design skills. Students formed groups, and each group chose a topic – groups chose everything from deforestation and sea level rise to carbon emissions and acid rain. After doing some individual research on their group’s topic, students went to work creating their masterpieces in the virtual world of Second Life. Their challenge was to design and build 3D virtual exhibits and animations, with the goal being to create something that would help others learn about climate change. All the projects turned out to be amazing. Check out just a couple of them that students presented to their families and Museum staff at this event. (Each image has a description of that group’s topic below the image.) And just try not to be impressed by what these students learned and created.

Before (left): A healthy forest with a big glacier nearby, and a house sitting a safe distance from the water’s edge. After (right): After deforestation by humans has destroyed the forest, all the carbon which has been stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere, accelerating the atmosphere’s warming greenhouse effect, which melts ice, raises sea levels, and affects environments and habitats.

Visitors to this theatre may sit and enjoy a short video (also created by this student group) about the effects of climate change on the Earth’s polar regions. They would learn that the Antarctic Peninsula’s temperature has risen 5.4degrees since 1950; and that by the end of the century, sea levels could rise by 3 feet. Visitors could then start a simulation on the exhibit to the right – as the ice sheets melt, the sea level rises.

What’s the connection between human industries, natural environments, and acid rain? This simulation displays a factory, illustrating how industrial activities, and the burning of fossil fuels, increase greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. This can then change the chemistry of the atmosphere, soils, forests, and oceans – acid rain and ocean acidification can in turn affect soils, vegetation, and ocean habitats.

August 23rd, 2011  in Events, Featured, Student Work No Comments »

Do the Stingray Shuffle

Field trips don’t normally include seeing an unidentified sea creature squirt purple ink on someone’s hand. Students participating in the Digital Wave Summer Academy who went on a field trip to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature on Key Biscayne got to see this, and tons more. First, everyone got a lesson in how to safely walk into the sea grass beds off of the coast of Key Biscayne – everyone needs to be safe for their own sakes, but also for the sake of the creatures that call the water and the sea grass home. For example – when you reach a sandbar, you should drag your feet along the bottom so that any stingrays there feel your presence in advance and swim away. It’s good sense – watch where you’re going, and don’t step on a stingray camouflaged on the seafloor. (They’re not used to being touched, like the stingrays in the Museum’s stingray touch tank!)

Students were given nets, and told how to drag them along the sea grass beds, and then gently but quickly lift them from the water to see if anything was caught. Our guides had buckets of seawater so we could observe what we found and learn about them. We saw starfish, box fish, and even a slug-looking creature that was so scared (or angry) at being caught, that it squirt out purple ink as a defense mechanism into the hand of the nature guide holding it – it even temporarily made his hand feel numb! Anyone know what kind of creature this was?

August 19th, 2011  in Events No Comments »