Events

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 »

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 »

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 »

Watching the Earth Breathe

Dr. Annmarie Eldering works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. She recently met with students in the Digital Wave program, to tell them about her job and what inspired her to follow her career path. That career path has been pretty amazing, and students had soooo many questions. Dr. Eldering work involves extracting information about clouds, aerosols, and trace gases in the Earth’s atmosphere with satellites and remote sensing instruments. And she is the Deputy Project Scientist on the soon-to-be-launched Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) satellite, which will map CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, basically “watching the Earth breathe.” And how did this awesome career path begin? It’s simple. An interest in chemistry and math, and wanting to know what stuff is made of.

 

March 9th, 2012  in Career Connection, Events No Comments »

A New WAVE for Spring!

It’s that time of year, and a new term of Digital WAVE is about to start on February 4th! In late January, Digital WAVE staff held evening orientation events for new students at the North Miami Public Library and at Miami Northwestern Senior High School. We were happy to get the chance to meet students and their families for the first time, and share information about the program. This spring, students can look forward to a Career day event, a field trip to Anne Kolb Nature Center, speaking with NASA scientists, and creating their own 3D virtual exhibits on climate change and south Florida.Special thanks to all those who took time out of their week to attend. See you soon!

January 30th, 2012  in Events No Comments »

The Last Wave – Family Event!

All good things come to an end, and the Fall 2011 session of Digital WAVE came to a close with a fun and inspirational event for students and their families. Throughout Digital WAVE, students had worked toward designing and building 3D projects in the virtual world of Second Life. These projects highlighted some aspect of climate change and how it affects south Florida environments such as mangroves forests and coastlines. Families were invited to the event, and saw that their sons and daughters had created 3D virtual factories emitting greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, virtual sea levels rising and inundating mangrove coastlines, and lots more. Students received their Digital Wave Certificates, and everyone enjoyed refreshments and photos!

One of the students' 3D climate change exhibit projects

Some of the Digital WAVE students having fun with photos before the Family Event

 

January 29th, 2012  in Events, Student Work No Comments »

All About Mangroves

This year in Digital WAVE, students are learning all about climate change and how it is related to south Florida environments – specifically mangroves. During class time they are using the same technology and software that scientists, animators, and designers use to model complex systems or create graphics for movies. And students have been using this technology at a state-of-the-art design lab at Miami Dade College-North Campus in order to design their own mangrove trees, which will be part of a 3D virtual exhibit they are creating.

Even though students have the incredible opportunity to create mangroves in a 3D virtual environment, there is also nothing like seeing mangroves in the 3D real environment. So the Digital WAVE students embarked on a trip to Biscayne National Park to go canoeing among the real mangroves. They learned about mangroves’ importance as marine habitats and as a kind of protection for us against the full force of hurricanes. The experience in this fun “outdoor lab” has inspired even more creativity when the students returned to the fun indoor lab. Some students may have temporarily ended up out of the canoe and in the water – but that’s all part of the fun.

December 1st, 2011  in Events, Featured No Comments »