Students Use Virtual Tools to Collaborate Across the Globe on Real World Environmental Conservation
…”The conservation program is based around two reefs, one real (a reef off the coast of Fiji) and the other virtual (designed by the Field Museum). WhyReef, the digital replica, allows kids to “dive” on two reefs, where they can examine 50 different species and play games that teach about biodiversity and conservation. Students also use a reef journal and interactive guides drawn from the Field Museum’s databases and the “Encyclopedia of Life” to identify unknown fish and test theories about healthy and sick reef environments.
In addition, both groups were exposed to a completely foreign culture via social media tools, all with the goal of understanding the science and ecology of coral reefs while attempting to provide real-world solutions to the problems that they see in their own environments.
“We had started looking into digital worlds as a way to work with youth and teens, to reach out to them and get them really participating in science,” says Beth Sanzenbacher, a coral reef specialist at the Field Museum. “So we designed a program to get teens in Chicago and Fiji to interact and learn about biology, ecology and conservation, and to become stewards of their environment.”…
Also read Civics under the Sea: Why Happens when Kids Dive in to WhyReef (http://spotlight.macfound.org/featured-stories/entry/civics-sea-kids-dive-in-to-whyreef/)>>How Whyville teaches middle school kids about fragile ecosystems