The Miami Science Museum has received a grant from NASA Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums for a new project, Youth EXPO: Youth Exploring the Potential of Virtual Worlds. Working closely with NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and NASA Learning Technologies and Goddard Space Flight Center, the project is developing an interactive simulation in the virtual world known as Second Life.
The simulation, titled EarthLab, will project information from NASA’s remote sensing data and climate model results onto a 3D image of the Earth. Virtual visitors will be able to control and manipulate variables as they conduct investigations into the cause and possible repercussions of climate change.
High school students from the Museum’s youth programs and MDCPS’s Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) will serve as evaluators and testers of the simulation. Once student feedback and recommendations have been incorporated into the simulation, EarthLab will be the centerpiece of a rigorous evaluation of participants’ increased knowledge of climate change, awareness of careers in climatology and the extent to which virtual world environments can support informal science learning.