A new appreciation for Second Life

A picture of the interior of the NASA eEducation Building.
A picture of the interior of the NASA eEducation Building.

During the past week, I attended E-volution 2011, an education and technology conference held at the University of Wyoming. At this conference, I had the opportunity to see how skilled instructors were using technology in their classrooms. One of the technologies demonstrated was Second Life, a virtual environment. I have used Second Life to attend conferences, but I really never used it as a focused educational tool. Rachel Watson, a lecturer for Molecular Biology at the University of Wyoming, and Mark Atkinson, a graduate student at the University of Wyoming presented interesting and powerful ways for using Second Life as an instructional tool.

Atkinson, who is also a director for the Wyoming Small Business Development Center, demonstrated how he used Second Life to conduct a staff retreat. He explained the steps he used to prepare staff to conduct a retreat in Second Life, activities to make staff comfortable, and the results of the event. Lots of great ideas.

Watson, who also posts to the blog “A Whole New World for Teaching and Learning,” uses Second Life to hold office hours and walk students through molecules and cell structures. It was fascinating to look at various genome structures and cells. In one case, she “flew” into a cell to examine the various pieces. She has developed a collection of Second Life locations that focus on her discipline and personal interests. One of the more powerful details Watson presented was her Educational Possibilities in Second Life – a table summary. This is a great list of ideas for how to use Second Life in education.

After looking at their use of Second Life, I became excited and started to explore Second Life more closely. I wanted to put together a collection of useful sites related to Aerospace Education to help my Civil Air Patrol cadets. As a result of my explorations, this is what I have put together:

  • Daden Apollo Tranquility Base – An educational simulation of the Apollo 11 Tranquility Base landing site.
  • International Year of Astronomy 2009 – Welcome to the virtual world home of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 in Scilands!   http://secondastronomy.org  Astronomy, galaxy, nebula, star, planet, telescope, universe, astrophotography, space art, free textures.
  • MICA – Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics – MICA [Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics], member of SciLands Amphitheater. MICA website is http://mica-vw.org Astrophysics, Astronomy talks and seminars.
  • The Star Trek Museum – SL’s best collection of Everything Star Trek – Full size  Enterprise, Shuttle Rides, Live Gagh, Holodecks, Trek Science, Astrometrics, P’Jem Monastery, Vulcan Town, Embassies, George & Gracie (whales from ST IV), Roddenberry Scuba, Movies and more!
  • NASA CoLab exhibits – A NASA-sponsored co-working area for employees and volunteers to work collaboratively in the SciLands.
  • NASA JPL on Explorer Island – Home of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Come see the history, explore space and technology.
  • International Spaceflight Museum – Spaceport Bravo – Spaceport Bravo, one of SciLands member ISM’s islands, has the Vehicle Assembly Building & the Orbiter Processing Facility. The ISM is totally volunteer built and donation supported. Not a NASA activity.  BravoPort.
  • International Spaceflight Museum – Spaceport Alpha – Rockets and spacecraft from the past, present and future.  Ride a rocket into space and explore the planets! SciLands member. Volunteer created & maintained, donation supported.  Not  a NASA activity.  AlphaPort.  ISM.
  • The Second Life Planetarium at Spaceport Alpha – See real life stars and planets with our virtual planetarium and telescope.   A proud member of the SciLands.  Astronomy.
  • Space – a Planetarium – Planetarium: Follow the footprints. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune; Moon panoramas (night & day) and much more. The Planetarium is a not-for-profit site, supported entirely by donations.
  • NASA eEducation Island Main Building – The hub of NASA eEducation Island – stop by for info and events related to NASA and NASA education.  NASA eEducation is located in the Scilands.

If you have an other great aerospace education related places to visit in Second Life, please let me know. Enjoy your virtual travels.

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