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5, 4, 3, 2, 1… BLAST OFF!

Like most kids, I dreamt of one day blasting into space in a rocket ship and looking down on our big blue planet as stars shone from distant galaxies in the background. Most of us don’t get to experience the thrill of being an astronaut but thanks to the Youth Expo Island in a virtual 3D world, we may not need to forgo your childhood dreams.

This spring students are using avatars to learn about climate change through immersive 3D experiences. High above the Youth Expo island directly above an erupting volcano, there are detailed replicas of satellites that NASA uses to help scientists collect very precise real-time data about just about any conceivable aspect of our planet’s climate.

A spacesuit-clad astronaut floats above a digital Earth amid climate satellites.

A spacesuit-clad astronaut floats above a digital Earth amid climate satellites.

Students use this interactive simulation to learn about the instruments and data that drives our understanding of how the Earth’s ocean currents, clouds, ground cover, and human activity affect global climate. They design an avatar, pick up a complementary spacesuit by the welcome area, and blast off in the space capsule for the ride of their lives!

Thank you Astronaut Leland Melvin!

We just had an amazing, inspiring talk with Astronaut Leland Melvin in Second Life. Almost 100 students from the Museum’s youth development programs participated. Here are a few shots from in-world… Video clips are coming soon.

Teen avatars float above virtual Earth with Astronaut Melvin.

We truly appreciate the time and dedication that Astronaut Melvin put into this event and look forward to hearing from him again in the future.

Take-away message: “You CAN do it!”