Archive for 2012

Go Green!

There are only so many hours in the day, but still, students in the second session of Digital WAVE this summer managed to build an entire 3D house in a virtual world in just 2 weeks. The goal was to show all the ways that we can use “green energy” in our houses, schools, and communities, with solar panels, wind turbines, energy-saving appliances, and lots more. During the program, they also went on a field trip to Oleta River State Park with the Museum’s Reclamation Project Director Fernando Bretos, put together electrical circuits powered by water, wind, and solar power, built and tested remotely operated vehicles, and even climbed into a real OceanGate submarine in the Museum. They also met with Mark Spalding, CEO of the Ocean Foundation, from within the virtual world. Mark (through his avatar) talked about the importance of blue carbon, which is the atmospheric carbon absorbed by coastal environments like mangroves and seagrass beds.  Students even met with a Museum employee who lives “off-the-grid” without electricity or running water – proving it can still be done! All of these experiences, along with their own research, helped students design our energy efficient virtual house. Enjoy our photo slideshow!

 

Students built solar-powered circuits and tested them in the sunlight outside the Museum… took measurements of trees at Oleta River State park to determine the carbon they absorb from the atmosphere… built and tested ROVs in a tank at the Museum’s Sea Lab…

 

…climbed into a real OceanGate submarine at the Museum…  and tons more! All of this resulted in an energy efficient, environmentally friendly virtual house with a green roof, solar panels, CFL light bulbs, energy efficient appliances, just to name a few.

 

 

One green energy source was a solar chimney, which provides power by heating air which then rises and powers the turbine. The bathroom has CFL bulbs, a ceiling fan for cooling without AC, and a water efficient toilet. And at the end of the program, students presented their projects, including this bird-friendly wind turbine, to their families and Museum staff. Jobs well done!

 

 

 

The Greenest (Virtual) House in Miami!

The Digital WAVE students have learned a lot this summer – building their own circuits powered by wind, water, and the Sun… following through the Energy Tracker exhibits at the Museum… meeting Martin Keeley, Education Director of the Mangrove Action Project via a virtual world… going on a field trip with Fernando Bretos of the Museum’s Reclamation Project to plant mangrove seedlings… researching energy efficient and environmentally friendly technologies. All of this helped inform student projects, with the big goal to create a 3D virtual exhibit of the “greenest house in Miami.” In the virtual world, students built virtual wind turbines, attenuator buoys to harness wave energy, and solar panels, and they built a virtual house with energy efficient appliances, a green roof, and water recycling abilities. On the last day of the program, students presented their projects to family and friends at the Family Event, held at the Museum. They shared what they had created and what they had learned, and left inspired to suggest or make whatever changes they could in their homes, schools, and lives. Take a tour of our virtual house below!

Digital WAVE house, with green roof

Wind Turbine

Solar panels, compost bins, and recycling containers

CFL light bulbs and ceiling fans

Presenting student projects at the Digital WAVE Family Event

July 3rd, 2012  in Events, Student Work No Comments »

Restoring Mangroves on Virginia Key

Being in south Florida, we are literally surrounded by precious natural environments – the ocean, the coral reefs, mangroves, the Everglades, to name a few. That means we are in a position to negatively affect our surroundings if we don’t pay attention, but we are also in a position to make a positive difference if we are willing to try. Thanks to Fernando Bretos and the Museum’s Reclamation Project, which works to restore mangrove environments in south Florida, Digital WAVE students were able to contribute to the restoration effort. After learning about the Reclamation Project in the morning, students saw just how interconnected everything in the world really is. Everyone was assigned to be a plant or animal in a mangrove habitat (i.e. fish, seagrass, humans, mangroves, etc), and stood in a circle. One student started out with a ball of string, and that person threw it to another person who represented a plant or animal directly connected to them by the food chain. The second person threw it to the third, and so on, until we had a literally interconnected web, showing that if one thing is in trouble, we are all in trouble. With this inspiration in mind, Fernando took the students to a mangrove restoration site on Virginia Key. Students stepped into the ankle-deep muddy water (sometimes knee-deep when you least expected it), and planted mangrove seedlings, doing their part to help all of us.

Mangroves in Action

This summer, Digital WAVE is all about what we can do – what we can do for our environment, what we can do in our homes and schools, and how we can create a better future. Through our virtual world, students met with Martin Keeley, Education Director for the Mangrove Action Project. Students’ avatars and Mr. Keeley’s avatar were all together at our virtual campfire, even though students were in the Museum’s computer lab and Martin was in his office in the Cayman Islands. Martin has lived and worked in East Africa, Asia, Alaska, Canada, Central and South America, as well as the US, as a teacher, photo-journalist, and environmental educator, and has founded award-winning wetland education projects. Students learned from Martin all about the importance of mangrove environments – they are vital marine and coastal habitats and also protect coastal communities from storm surges. Martin shared his unique career path, showing that all you have to do is follow your passion in life, work hard at what is important, and you can make a difference in the world. You just might have to put up with your feet getting a little bit muddy.

 

 

June 26th, 2012  in Career Connection, Events No Comments »

Tracking Green Energies at the Museum

Climate change is a global problem, and will take global collaboration between nations and innovative “green” technologies. But what can we do about it as individuals in our own homes, schools, and communities? This summer, Digital WAVE students have been figuring that out. The goal was to create a 3D virtual house that would be the “greenest house in Miami,” powered by renewable energy sources like water, wind and the Sun. First, students had to learn more about energy, and where better to do that then with the Energy Tracker exhibits at the Museum? After interacting with Museum exhibits about wind turbines, hydroelectricity, and solar power, students investigated these energy sources more, by building their own Snap Circucits with batteries, voltmeters, and mini windmills, water wheels, and solar panels. How much power can you get from these energy sources? How can using these technologies make our lives better and our future cleaner? Based on their experience with Museum exhibits, the circuits they built, and their own research, groups of students decided what they wanted to build in their 3D virtual house to make the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient in Miami (even if it’s virtual Miami).

June 21st, 2012  in Uncategorized No Comments »

The Great Family Event of Spring 2012

At the end of every Digital WAVE session, we celebrate the students’ accomplishment with students, Museum staff, invited families and friends … and of course, chocolate cake! At our recent Family Event at the end of this year’s spring session, students presented the virtual world projects they’d created, which were designed to illustrate water pathways and the impacts of climate change on south Florida. Throughout the program, students gathered information for their projects through all kinds of fun activities. They went on a field trip to Anne Kolb Nature Center, met in-person with University of Miami scientist Dr. Arthur Mariano, met Dr. Annmarie Eldering of NASA via virtual worlds, conducted their own research, and built model aquifers. They even met virtually with students from Maloka Interactive Science Center in Colombia, who were also working on water and  climate related projects, through the Museum’s SCEnaRioS project. The final result was truly impressive, because not only did each group create south Florida environments like the Everglades or downtown Miami, but all of the groups worked together to make these environments fit in one interactive map of south Florida. All of the students received well-deserved certificates of completion, not to mention some yummy cake.

June 3rd, 2012  in Events No Comments »

Fly Over a Virtual South Florida

Imagine you are flying above Florida, looking down at the winding (and in some places straight) Kissimmee River, the enormous Lake Okeechobee, the patchwork quilt of farmlands, the watery green Everglades, and the urban sprawl of houses and roads. For those of us who are not superheroes with the ability to fly, the students participating in our Digital WAVE program can give you that opportunity. They have been learning about climate change and the water pathways throughout south Florida, and have created a 3D virtual south Florida to illustrate these crucial environmental issues. Take a photo tour of south Florida with us, and you will be amazed at the progress amd creativity of these young people. (Click on each image to see a larger picture.)

The beginning stages of our virtual Florida

The final product - our virtual Florida!

A close-up of the Everglades

A close-up of urban Miami

June 1st, 2012  in Featured, Student Work No Comments »

Science Can Find You if You’re Lost at Sea

Many young people wonder… How do I take what I’m interested in, and turn it into a career? For Dr. Arthur Mariano, it was a a simple love of fishing and being on the water that sparked his career. He is one of the world’s leading experts in ocean dynamics, and is a Professor of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Dr. Mariano recently came to speak to students in the Museum’s Digital Wave program about his work and his career path. His research concentrates on modeling and predicting ocean variability, and he spoke to students about various research methods of understanding ocean dynamics. Methods include numerical circulation models as well as direct measurements using a system of buoys and satellite observations. Two applications of this knowledge really made students stop and think about how science applies to our everyday lives. 1) How can we best predict and stop the spread of oil after a spill? 2) How do we find someone if they’re lost at sea? The answer to both questions is: Go to scientists like Dr. Mariano, who can predict, based on knowledge of the ocean and currents, how the oil is moving through the water, or where to search for the missing boater. And all of this knowledge, and this amazing career, all started with a young boy’s love of fishing.

Dr. Mariano and Digital Wave participants

May 20th, 2012  in Career Connection No Comments »

The Scholarship Jackpot!

We recently heard the fantastic news that some of our previous Digital Wave students had been finalists for some prestigious scholarships. Now we are so proud to report that we officially have 2 winners of the Dell Scholars Program, and 1 winner for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program! These are not your everyday scholarships. These are like hitting-the-jackpot type scholarships. The Dell scholarship includes: $20,000 towards college expenses, technology equipment, a private scholar networking community, and mentoring support throughout college. The Gates Millennium scholarship provides a full ride for all college expenses, opportunities to renew the scholarship if academic progress is maintained, leadership development programs, and even funding for graduate school in the areas of computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health, and science. So who are the academic all-stars who earned the jackpot?

Gregory Hyppolite, winner of the Dell Scholars program, plans to attend the University of West Florida. At the Museum, he has participated in Digital Wave as well as the Upward Bound program since ninth grade. He is a member of the Museum’s Youth Advisory Board and holds a position as Explainer to help supplement his family’s income. At school, he is a member of the Leadership Team and has earned an internship position with the Superintendent of Miami-Dade County, Alberto M. Carvalho. Greg is a natural leader, ambitious, and as any other student will tell you, is always willing to lend assistance to anyone in need.

David Green, believe it or not, has earned both the Dell AND the Gates scholarships! David has also been a participant in the Museum’s Digital Wave and Upward Bound programs. Graduating as valedictorian this year, he plans to attend the University of Florida. He has been actively involved in his school’s robotics team, tutors other students, has helped develop the Overtown Cookbook, all while holding a steady part-time job. Quick, thoughtful, and encouraging to his peers, he believes that “education is my refuge in adversity.”

 

 

April 26th, 2012  in Featured, Uncategorized No Comments »

Scientists Observing Nature

On a field trip to Anne Kolb Nature Center, Digital Wave students were real scientists.  A scientist’s job is to observe the world and ask questions. They always want to know how something works or how something is affected by something else. So students went on a boat ride through the channels and open waters of West Lake with a nature guide, and visited the exhibit hall to learn more about the natural environments. Job #1: Observe and Listen. Job #2: Ask questions. Job #3: Take notes and draw sketches of what you see. And of course one of the most important jobs:  enjoy the nature around you. For those readers (a.k.a. scientists) also taking notes, there are 3 types of mangrove tree: red, black, and white. As you may have guessed, you can tell them apart by their coloring, but also by the shape of their leaves and where they prefer to grow. Red mangroves grow closer to the shoreline, and white and black prefer slightly more inland. Mangroves also take advantage of living on the shore – seedlings drift in the water’s currents, and grow rapidly when they find a spot they like. Mangrove forests play an important role in the ecosystem for fish and for humans, so scientists (a.k.a. all of us) need to keep an eye on them.

April 2nd, 2012  in Events No Comments »