Computers bring ocean depths to classrooms
July 27, 1998
By Environmental News Network staff
The computer models are created from data at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and at the Naval Meterology and Oceanography Command at the John C. Stennis Space Center. Made possible by workstations of the Digital Research and Imaging Lab at Mississippi State, the images are transmitted over the Internet.
Teachers and students will be able view the 3-D representations on personal computers available to most schools.
Computer visualizations are just one aspect of a comprehensive program that uses technology to present the study of science in new ways. Through the end of July, Mississippi State is introducing STARBORD -- Stimulating Teachers about Resources for Broad Oceanographic Research and Discovery -- in a series of teacher workshops around the United States.
STARBORD is part of a collaborative effort to provide coastal processes education for K-12 teachers and to stimulate students' interest in studying marine science and related areas, said R. Dan Brook of Mississippi State's Center for Education and Training Technology.
"We're trying to show teachers innovative uses for technology and ways they can use it in their own classrooms to teach oceanography," he said.
In addition to Mississippi State, partners in the Consortium for Oceanographic Activities for Students and Teachers include the University of Southern Mississippi and St. Norbert College of De Pere, Wis. Each school is presenting a separate phase of the project, which is made possible by the National Ocean Partnership Program and funded by the Office of Naval Research.
Teachers in STARBORD workshops at six regions around the U.S. are learning about digital photography, Internet resources, QuickTime virtual reality and other technology-based teaching tools. They're also learning about grant opportunities that could provide funding to purchase new technological resources.
"The workshops are a beginning," explained Charles Calvo, director of the School of Architecture's Digital Imaging Laboratory and project co-director. "We want teachers to help shape future applications and visualizations so the information is useful to them."
Teachers in the workshops will develop their own web page with visualization resources for the classroom. They'll learn how to collect specimens such as starfish, record them with digital cameras and create 3-D images online. The goal is to build a gallery of specimens that give students "virtual" access.
In this and other projects, "we want students to become researchers along with teachers," Brook explained. "We can ask a question such as 'what would happen if the ocean level dropped two feet?' and we can visualize the answer as a computer model. Students will have access to resources and ideas they've never experienced."
Approximately 150 teachers are participating in the first year of the multi-year project, and the directors estimate that thousands of teachers and students will benefit.
"This is a new way of learning, and it allows students to experience science in a way that textbooks cannot," said Calvo.
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