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2013 Annual Science Report

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Reporting  |  SEP 2012 – AUG 2013

EPO Activity: Virtual Field Trips

Project Progress

Our Virtual Field Trip (VFT) product, based on cutting-edge interactive technology, allows teachers to take whole classrooms into astrobiologically significant remote regions of the world and beyond by overcoming obstacles such as accessibility, cost, time, and logistics. Using advanced hardware and software tools like robotic Gigapan systems, underwater and surface-based cameras with advanced spherical tripod heads, seamless 360 degree digital video, and unique software for online dissemination, students are presented with engaging and rich educational experiences. We also deliver pedagogical paths through these sites and their scientific content by providing instructional modules for basic science concepts, as well as integrating those modules into facilitated and non-facilitated online courses throughout multiple grade levels. In June 2013, members of the MIT and ASU NAI teams traveled to Shark Bay and the Pilbara regions of Australia to gather material for new VFTs, acquiring 13 location-based sphericals, 4 gigapans, 277 video clips, 5 quad copter flights, and well over 2,000 still photographs. From July through September, MIT and ASU team members Benjamin Kotrc and Jessica Swann developed learning modules for this new material, aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards for High School Earth and Space Sciences, Life Sciences, as well as the undergraduate-level ASU online course “Habitable Worlds”.