Why Do We Have Minority History Months?

563689_297167427070212_770290619_n

Black History Month,Asian American Month,Native American Month.Hispanic American..etc. I think that is because the real history is rarely taught. Sometimes it is taught without talking about the problems that people had in this country. Native Americans who survived the two new worlds coming together, suffered a lot that has never been taught. We don’t teach history and geography well. Many students never grasp the idea of the global exchange that is the world today.

Try this method. We have lots of ways to explore our histories today. We have technologies and books and real and virtual field trips.

USE THE DATE?

I had a teacher who used dates. She would say 1492? What was happening in the world?

We had to learn to create something that would tell her this information.  Some students would have the dates before and after.You could not just memorize the data in a book or a chapter. It was a very interesting way to learn about what was going on in the world. ( Dr. Dannie Starre Townes- Virginia State University.

We had to learn what the leading influences were in the time frame that she gave us and then we had to present it to others.

Triangle_Trade

I had a principal who had a book, the “Book of Where”, and she encouraged us to let students explore the travel of their families through the years.
The Book of Where: Or How to Be Naturally Geographic: Neill Bell
Published by Scholastic Inc, 1994
ISBN 10: 0590480154 / ISBN 13: 9780590480154

We made family maps and did International Day and learned about many cultures. Also the National Geographic had taught me to let kids draw a free hand map of the USA.

The family map was personal. It could be national or international. Cultural elements were inserted. Recipes were collected and shared.We shared family stories and history.

We explored geography and the US.

Now there are new ways to explore our history, our roots, our family stories.

Who are the people in your family ?

Where did the family originate?

Have you and your family always lived in the USA?

Where in the USA has your family lived, visited, what are the places that people have gone to school, and or work and or family vacations?

Is there another country that your family originated from? More than one?

Geography is a template for learning about the world.

Museums do tell the stories , the Smithsonian does workshops for interested people and there are exhibits. The Smithsonian had the exhibit years ago, Seeds of Change that used plants to tell the story of two worlds merging. Two old worlds merging and changing culture, or not from each other. The map above is a very simplified diagram. We have tools and technology now to tell the story better. There are new ways to explore museums. There are new ways to explore cultures. Google Cultural Institute

The Google Cultural Institute is a way to learn about cultures. You can explore using technology as in this virtual tour of Egypt.. (This is a view of the great Pyramids of Giza.)

There is this project that lets you learn from artifacts in a museum. It is the Smithsonian project X3D.

“The SIx3D viewer offers students the ability to explore some of the Smithsonian’s most treasured objects with a level of control that has never been possible until now. We hope this revolutionary level of access to the Smithsonian collections will spark your students’ curiosity and that the exploration of these objects will enable them to build lifelong observation and critical thinking skills.”

“With few exceptions, SIx3D also offers access to these data sets. Hailed by many as the third industrial revolution, 3D technology is molding a new K-12 STEM model. Students can use the same tools as professionals to become creators themselves. Whether students are printing invaluable museum objects or inventions of their own design, we hope the chance to bring objects to life will give students the opportunity to create imaginative and innovative work.”

To help you introduce 3D and its possibilities to your students, Smithsonian educators are working on new resources for K-12 classrooms.

Rather than glimpsing art & photography in the confines of rectangular frames, step into them in virtual reality with the Google Cardboard for supported smart phones. Here is the link to start those explorations.

Traditional Museum Resources? So many museums online.

This is one that lets us frame the thinking about the two old worlds that came together.

Seeds of Change: Five Plants That Transformed Mankind was a 1985 book by Henry Hobhouse which explains how the history of the world since Columbus linked America to Europe and has been changed by five plants.[1] It describes how mankind’s discovery, usage and trade of sugar, tea, cotton, the potato, and quinine have influenced history to make the modern world. The museum used that book as a beginning way to tell us the story ,it was fascinating!!

The focus  seeds are: sugar, corn, the potato, disease, and the horse, selected says Viola “because of the human dimension to their story.” From the exhibition has also came another book called “Seeds of Change,” edited by Viola and and Carolyn Margolis, assistant director of the museum’s quincentenary programs. ( You may notice that tobacco , which was a seed of change was not addressed.

‘IMAGINE a world without pizza, Swiss chocolates, or French fries! Even harder, imagine Italy without the tomato or the {cowboy} without his horse,” says Herman J. Viola, the father of the massive new show “Seeds of Change” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

The ideas merged and produced an expanded concept for the exhibition “Seeds of Change” that would focus on five seeds chosen from a list of nearly l00. As Viola says, this exhibition focuses on “an exchange of peoples, animals, plants, and diseases between Europe, Africa, and the Americas” over 500 years that began when the New and Old Worlds met.Mr. Viola, curator of the 400-object show, notes that before Columbus encountered the Americas none of those fixtures of modern life had been discovered.

Article excerpt

‘IMAGINE a world without pizza, Swiss chocolates, or French fries! Even harder, imagine Italy without the tomato or the {cowboy} without his horse,” says Herman J. Viola, the father of the massive new show “Seeds of Change” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Mr. Viola, curator of the 400-object show, notes that before Columbus encountered the Americas none of those fixtures of modern life had been discovered.

Learning history can be fun!!

12688253_10154510001198066_8770277770743209193_n

What is History?

“History is for human self-knowledge. Knowing yourself means knowing, first, what it is to be a person; secondly, knowing what it is to be the kind of person you are; and thirdly, knowing what it is to be the person you are and nobody else is. Knowing yourself means knowing what you can do; and since nobody knows what they can do until they try, the only clue to what man can do is what man has done. The value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is.” R. G. Collingwood

Knowing other people’s stories helps us to understand sometimes their ways of seeing the world and their elements of culture. Simply we can cite, food , shelter, clothing, systems of education, and customs or traditions. But it can get much more complicated than that. See here . Elements of Culture.  We made T-Shirts to define regions in the US. Other countries may also have regional differences, linked by the language, land and available food sources.

What is Geography and what does that have to do with History?

How Do We Learn it? Why Study Geography?

Sometimes, even effective, fun award-winning web and mobile study apps aren’t enough to sustain motivation to study Geography, if you don’t see its relevance to your life. It is not just about beautiful visuals and interesting places, The truth is that geography is a highly relevant and important type of knowledge for anyone to have.

Here are some top reasons why you should study more geography.

  1. Global Awareness /Where is that place?
    Let’s be honest: we all care about what other people think of us. That’s why our first important reason for studying geography is that it makes you look smart. Knowing basic geography can help you avoid embarrassing moments, impress a people, increase your knowledge of the world that we live in. In addition you see and hear about lots of places that are dots on the map. What do you really , really know about the places and the people who live there?

2. Put the News in Context
How are you supposed to understand the news if you don’t know geography? Knowing geography helps put current events in context. Recently there has been a lot of news about immigrants. Who are they , why do they come, where do they come from and what do we need to know about them or immigration in an historical sense. I was amazed to be in a city in Europe from which many Italians came and to see their letters of credit on a rope that was put up into the ceiling each night. This was when Italians were coming to America in droves from Naples.

For example, knowing that Hong Kong is a city in southern China can begin to help a person understand why it is politically different from the rest of China: it’s geographically isolated.

Hands on a globe

3. Chart the Course of History
Geography not only puts current events in perspective, it help us understand history. A person can’t understand World War II without understanding the roles of the continental Russian Winter or the English Channel. Geography shapes the course of world history. Want to better understand history? Study geography.

The various months help us to know the history in the United States of the groups who were brought here, who were already here, and those who immigrated here. I learned oter people’s history too. Here is a reason that people immigrate.

4. Build Navigation Skills
The most basic skill in navigation is understanding the “lay of the land.” Studying geography helps develop spatial thinking. Those skills could come in handy if you get lost driving around town or in the wilderness!Whoa.. did I forget the GIS? ESRI skills? You can build a story of the places you are studying on a map.GIS 1

5. Travel Smart Whether doing Virtual or Real Travel.
Without a basic sense of geography, it’s impossible to get the most out of travel experiences. If you’re heading to Spain, do you want to see misty mountains, rocky coastlines, or searing-hot cities? These questions will decide whether you head to Torla, Basque Country, or Sevilla. Study up before your next vacation or VR Experience..You don’t want to do eye candy where you just look at pretty pictures without the content.

iho

6. Understand Your Home
Geography allows you to understand the place where you live in the context of the world as it is. Why did people settle in your town? What is the cultural heritage of your town ? Your region?The people who live there? I just found out that the city that I grew up in was the home of slavery. Alexandria , Virginia. People were sold from that city to the south. I never knew that!.It was not taught to me. I went to a Catholic School at first, run by Irish Priesrs and nuns from the Oblate Sisters of Providence. I knew the history of Ireland, and of New Orleans from where the nuns came.

People settle in specific places because of the landscape. For example, cities are almost always built on a river or other reliable water supply. What is the history of the place you live? How has the geography affected the area? These are the questions to ask to gain a deep understanding of your home.

7. Get a Grasp on Globalization
Globalization has been one of the biggest forces in world history for decades. The saying “it’s a small world” reflects this change: the world is as big as it always was, but it’s just more interconnected than ever. Understanding the changes that have swept the world as a result of this interconnection is impossible without appreciating the geography on which it is taking place.

internet-of-things

8. Make Sense of Different Cultures
Human culture is fundamentally place-based: the land determines or influences the cuisine, clothing, architecture, even social relationships. Every aspect of a culture is affected by its geography.

Geography helps you understand and appreciate the incredible diversity of cultures around the world. Like with news, geography puts culture in context. To understand a people, you have to know something about their land.

p011nryz

9. Prepare for the Future
Geographic skills guide important decisions every day. From architecture to politics to business, the physical landscape frames the debates happening today that will be in the history books tomorrow.

Most people don’t get to learn geography. It may be shared in the context of a place name on the news, or as  a part of personal history, if there is interest.

Do your personal exploration and share it with others.

We Should Be A Nation of Digital Opportunity for All

images

ISTE has a wonderful template of the digital age learner. It works for those students lucky enough to be in the right environment, the right school, and with a teacher who is looking toward the future with academic support of new technology.

standards-poster-500full Here is the template. It is gorgeous. Get it for your school, for your community and for those who are interested in helping to create digital age learners.
The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students emphasize the skills and qualities we want for students, enabling them to engage and thrive in a connected, digital world. The standards are designed for use by educators across the curriculum, with every age student, with a goal of cultivating these skills throughout a student’s academic career. Both students and teachers will be responsible for achieving foundational technology skills to fully apply the standards. The reward, however, will be educators who skillfully mentor and inspire students to amplify learning with technology and challenge them to be agents of their own learning.

This is an amazing document that should be shared and given to school boards, community activist, informal education teachers, and parents. I have a powerpoint that explains all of these. How do we make the change to help “all students ” to have these skills and qualities?

Many schools and communities are  in denial about their state of technology . I live in Washington DC, and I heard the CTO of the city say that all of our students are being well served. This was at an IoT conference with global citizens. I didn’t know what to do or say. I assume that what she said , is what she was told by the school system in DC.

We the people, we the public, we the teachers need to be confrontational about the lack of those who are digitally denied.

We the teachers ,need to be educated toward the transformative policies that ISTE has shared. There are too many people who misunderstand. They think that all students are being well served.

On December 13, Free Press published Digital Denied: The Impact of Systemic Racial Discrimination on Home-Internet Adoption. The report, written by Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner, examines the racial divide in home-internet adoption and exposes how structural racial discrimination contributes to it. Below is an edited summary of the report written by Dana Floberg — Free Press’ C. Edwin Baker fellow — and reprinted with permission.

Internet access is a necessity for engaging in our communities, searching for employment and seeking out educational opportunities — but too many people are still stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide. And that divide disproportionately impacts people of color.

Indeed, the racial divide in home-internet adoption — including both wired and wireless service — leaves people of color behind the digital curve. People of color comprise 32 million of the 69 million people in the United States who lack any form of home-internet access. Free Press research exposes this undeniable gap and explains how structural racial discrimination contributes to it.

Systemic discrimination creates serious income inequality in this country. Whites have far higher average incomes than Blacks or Latinos. Low-income families are less able and willing to buy internet subscriptions. And many families who are willing to pay for service find they can’t due to racially biased barriers like credit scoring. Given how stark racial and ethnic income discrepancies are, it’s no surprise that people of color lag behind in internet adoption.

AR-160209544.jpg&MaxW=650

Income differences explain some of the racial divide, but not all of it.

U.S. Census data on income and internet adoption paint a clear picture:

  • 49 percent of households with incomes below $20,000 have wired or wireless internet, but nearly 90 percent of households with incomes above $100,000 do.
  • 81 percent of Whites have home-internet access, compared to 70 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of Blacks.

Free Press’ report demonstrates that the racial-adoption gap persists even after we account for differences in income and a host of other demographic factors. For example, there is a divide between people who are in the same income brackets but in different racial or ethnic groups. The gap is widest for people earning less than $20,000: Fifty-eight percent of Whites in this group have some form of home internet, compared to just 51 percent of Hispanics and 50 percent of Blacks.web_header_3

There is research that tells us how to reach and teach the students. It is here.

There are students who are of tribal, rural, distant and urban areas who are affected. They are all kinds and all colors. Years ago, when the National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council formed policy ( Kickstart) we acknowledged these areas of difficulty and sought to solve the problems. Politics has gotten in the way sometimes.

There are other sources , such as that of the George Lucas Educational Foundation that give examples of what helps and what hinders. Here is a special set of blogs on the topic.

Research and templates inform. We the public need to hold the school systems and communities to the standards so that all children benefit from the uses and skills enabling them to be digital citizens . But parents may not know or understand the uses of technology well.

IMG_8958
Common Sense Education
Common Sense Education provides digital literacy and citizenship programs to school communities to empower students to harness technology for learning and life.They just published a report “The Digital Lives of Minority Youth”. But this report, The Common Sense Census Plugged in Parents of Tweens and Teens 2016 matches nicely with the ISTE report.
Plan of Action?
Print out the template and take it to the next PTA meeting. Share copies of it with parents and have a speaker to access it online. Have a discussion about it and plan action for your school and community.
See if your school has an ISTE member. ISTE has a conference where these types of action and study of the topic is a part of how they serve their members. Hopefully, the school will sponsor a teacher to attend and be a part of ISTE and other technology minded groups. There are also state groups and regional groups that help in outreach.
Is there a low-cost provider who serves your community? If so get some community people working to help them with outreach. Make sure that the provider meets the needs of the community. There are many ways to do this.
 Query the school board and if possible involve people in a presentation about this topic. Use resources that fit your community.

Dinosaurs and Many Ways of Learning!!

field trip

What is a field trip? It could be VR, AI or real. It could be short, a day field trip or long as in Earthwatch , or the Fulbright Experience. It could be online and after school in learning places in the neighborhood. I love it when they are journeys of the mind.  I love taking kids to a place prepared to stretch their minds with a head full of knowledge. We prepared for our field trips and profited from pre-learning.

IMG_1942

This was a field trip with students to the Science and Engineering Festival. It would be hard to prepare for this one, but we had been studying Dinosaurs, reading books, looking at images online, seeing videos, using ramification ( Dynotycoon) and making them out of clay. We can’t take a real dinosaur field trip, but we know where to go to learn more.

We could learn with a game. That is not a field trip, but a trip using ramification to explore a mythical Dinopark. Here

You can just imagine the shrieks of joy as students programming a robotic  dinosaur. This learning venture required some base knowledge, some reading, some knowledge of geography and study of a special kind of dinosaur. As far as I know the closest dinosaur field trip a real one is to Saltville , Va.

HISTORY

After nearly 100 years of study, the town’s ancient fossil beds continue to yield surprises.

ETSU paleontologists are the most recent in a long line of researchers to collect specimens in the Saltville Valley. This year is the 50th anniversary of a Virginia Tech agreement with the Smithsonian Institution to excavate and study specimens found here in the 1960s, including a 7-foot-long section of mastodon tusk.

Scientific digs began much earlier, in 1917, when a collapsed industrial salt well revealed a rich layer of prehistory that drew the attention of the Carnegie Institution. The town’s Museum of the Middle Appalachians, which now oversees the digs, is planning to celebrate next year with a centennial symposium, executive director Janice Orr said.

But accidental finds go back at least to the 18th century, and possibly much further.

In a letter dated 1782, Arthur Campbell wrote to Thomas Jefferson, former Virginia governor and future U.S. president, about the discovery at Saltville of the bones of a “large jaw tooth of an unknown animal lately found at the Salina in Washington County.”

MUSEUMS AND MAPS?

The Smithsonian used to have a dinosaur outside of the museum. I was missing a child from a field trip. He had been mesmerized by the dinosaur and climbed it. He could not get down. I spotted him from the bus and a parent went to help him climb down. That dinosaur is no longer available to climb.

WHO  WHAT  WHERE  WHEN AND WHY?

Those are the questions we asked.

Where in the world did the dinosaurs live? Here and a global map

Where in the US did the dinosaurs live? Here

You can learn a lot studying paleobiology at this Smithsonian web site. Here

Who can teach me more about dinosaurs?

What are ten things Kids need to know about dinosaurs?Here

Why do we care about dinosaurs? What are the known dinosaurs?

What did they eat? 

The first blockbuster movie that influenced my teaching was about dinosaurs, I was about Jurassic Park. I had never been interested in them but I had to rise to the challenge and fit the interest of those who loved the big beasts. First, I had to see the movie and then think of ways to add, augment, share , expand their knowledge in meaningful ways. The movie is online at Amazon Prime ( the whole movie).

Jurassic Park ( the movie)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5C7dqrAItM

I also needed to share the movie experience with the students who had not seen it and make available the book and the many books and magazines about dinosaurs.

IMG_6870

You may not know what the learning places and museums have to offer you and your children or students. Take a planning trip there. See how they do outreach. Talk to them.

I explained to a group of interested people that 2 field trips a year were often the most that children could take and suggested use of some of the budget for a bus. Or to do outreach to the school. My school scheduled a Museum bus on Saturdays for parents and students.

I also wrote grants and requests for field trips , movies, and realia for the classroom. Virtual field trips are good, real ones are good , a combination with Skype is good.

Museums have gone digital and they have much to share online.

https://learninglab.si.edu/news/creative-introduction-into-geography

Smithsonian

There are many experiences that are virtual

Walking with Dinosaurs

Virtual Reality Dinosaur Game

Dinosaur Art ( K-3)

High School   Geniversity ( Build a Dragon)

http://geniverse.concord.org/geniversity/

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Reality and Memorable Learning, so Interesting!!

IMG_9808
IMG_0061

Teachers Exploring TACC

Education and technology has changed the way we are involved with museums. There are many museums that people may never get to visit. Virtually, there are resources to help students, teachers and community to use museums to learn. One resource that is wonderful is the Google Cultural Institute

I share this blog because often a museum trip is a quick hit and in the words of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the kids don’t really see much on the trip. So I offer you some ways of seeing, visualizing and being involved in learning.

The Google Cultural Institute has many ways of sharing collections, tours, and artifacts.

Wikipedia says:
“‘Google Cultural Institute is an initiative unveiled by Google following the 2011 launch of the Google Art Project. . It is “an effort to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone and to digitally preserve it to educate and inspire future generations.”  The Cultural Institute has partnered with a number of institutions to make exhibition and archival content available online, including the British Museum, Yad Vashem, the Museo Galileo in Florence, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, and the Museum of Polish History in Warsaw among others. Further you can :

Discover exhibits and collections from museums and archives all around the world. Explore cultural treasures in extraordinary detail, from hidden gems to masterpieces.

Create your own galleries and share favorite finds with friends.You can take a tour, Discover artworks, world heritage sites, cultural figures, and more. You can create your own..
Create your own galleries and share favorite finds with friends and take virtual tours.
Participants can Explore & Search

 

Explore to discover more categories and projects.
Or search for people, events, museums, and works of art.

You Can Share & Discover. This is a hearth. How would you cook on this? That information is available in the Google Cultural Institute.

IMG_9814

Share special finds with friends across all your social networks.
Compare two items side-by side.
Save favorite pieces and access them later, and even create your own gallery.
Or click Discover to see related topics and categories.

The Iron Age in Britain

I was a visitor to the British Museum and shared a few pictures with Facebook.There was so much to see and learn about. I found a new section to explore. Life in the Iron Age of Britain was fascinating. But there was not enough time to study the whole collection.

I live in Washington , DC  within walking distance of most of the Smithsonian Museums . It is always hard to choose which museum to visit and to grasp the new offerings. An entirely new offering is the 3-D Explorer.

Exploring the Smithsonian

You can explore online resources from A to Z online.

The Smithsonian has a new 3-D Explorer. They are excited about it.

Smithsonian X 3D launches a set of use cases which apply various 3D capture methods to iconic collection objects, as well as scientific missions. These projects indicate that this new technology has the potential not only to support the Smithsonian mission, but to transform museum core functions. Researchers working in the field may not come back with specimens, but with 3D data documenting a site or a find. Curators and educators can use 3D data as the scaffolding to tell stories or send students on a quest of discovery. Conservators can benchmark today’s condition state of a collection item against a past state – a deviation analysis of 3D data will tell them exactly what changes have occurred. All of these uses cases are accessible through the Beta Smithsonian X 3D Explorer, as well as videos documenting the project. For many of the 3D models, raw data can be downloaded to support further inquiry and 3D printing. This video explains the topic.Some historic artifacts have been placed in this model and can be printed out in a classroom, or examined online to think about the model.

10422205_10153643669617802_5859067502412981041_n

If you come to Washington , DC , the problem is , which museum to visit. I like the Natural History Museum with the Science on a Sphere exhibits that help us understand the whole museums focus on the Earth.iuri

The Smithsonian Museums are competitive .

One of my favorite museums that wraps itself around you is the Monterey Bay Museum.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) is a public aquarium located in Monterey, California, United States. The aquarium was founded in 1984 and is located on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row. It has an annual attendance of more than two million visitors. It holds thousands of plants and animals, representing more than 600 species on display. The aquarium benefits from a high circulation of fresh ocean water which is obtained through pipes which pump it in continuously from Monterey Bay.

IMG_0963

The centerpiece of the Ocean’s Edge Wing, is a 28-foot-high (8.5 m), 333,000-US-gallon (1,260,000 l; 277,000 imp gal) tank for viewing California coastal marine life. In this tank, the aquarium was the first in the world to grow live California Giant Kelp. Visitors are able to inspect the creatures of the kelp forest at several levels in the building. The largest tank in the aquarium is a 1,200,000-U.S.-gallon (4,500,000 l; 1,000,000 imp gal) tank in the Open Sea galleries (formerly the Outer Bay), which features one of the world’s largest single-paned windows. It is one of the few aquariums to hold the ocean sunfish in captivity.iho

Sealife on exhibit includes stingrays, jellyfish, sea otters, and numerous other native marine species, which can be viewed above and below the waterline. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of very few in the world to exhibit both bluefin and yellowfin tuna. For displaying jellyfish, it uses a Kreisel tank, which creates a circular flow to support and suspend the jellies. The aquarium does not house mammals other than otters. These are a few of my favorite museums to share.

Other options? Sure

New? Augmented reality and the Hololens. This is how Microsoft wants to change the superbowl. Immersive Superbowl.??

There is of course Google Cardboard, and the use of Skype to talk to people in museums or classes from another country. We don’t want to just look at pretty pictures. Content makes the viewing much more memorable than eye candy.

IMG_1238

Monterey Bay Aquarium

To be in the museum in Monterey and to see this Octopus is one experience. Coming now are ways that are immersive , in that the virtual reality puts the person into the experience, well sort of.  Here is a teaser. A GIF

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/-/m/images/animated-gifs/kelp-forest.gif?la=en( in case you want to download it.)

Here is one that I find especially awesome. the whale by Magic Leap. Amazing 3D Virtual Reality Leaping Whale. There are other examples within that URL that are awesome.
.
www.magicleap.com  This one has some other fascinating models. It does take a little bit of time to load. Be patient.

The virtual reality tool that I most liked was Google Glass. I could see my way through Russia , have translations, a way of going through the subways. I am sure that it will be back in another form. I can’t wait.

 

 

 

Virtual , or Real..Augmenting Learning

virtual-reality-6

Learning has new ways of introducing ideas and ideational scaffolding. Virtual reality is one way of changing the learning.

“virtual reality”
noun
Simple Definition of virtual reality

: an artificial world that consists of images and sounds created by a computer and that is affected by the actions of a person who is experiencing it.

The internet of things renders this simple definition to be limited.

Here is a Virtual Reality Site that gives nuances to the definition. We will start with the definition and then go from the research to simple projects.

“The definition of virtual reality comes, naturally, from the definitions for both ‘virtual’ and ‘reality’. The definition of ‘virtual’ is near and reality is what we experience as human beings. So the term ‘virtual reality’ basically means ‘near-reality’. This could, of course, mean anything but it usually refers to a specific type of reality emulation.”

“We know the world through our senses and perception systems. In school we all learned that we have five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. These are however only our most obvious sense organs. The truth is that humans have many more senses than this, such as a sense of balance for example. These other sensory inputs, plus some special processing of sensory information by our brains ensures that we have a rich flow of information from the environment to our minds.”

“Everything that we know about our reality comes by way of our senses. In other words, our entire experience of reality is simply a combination of sensory information and our brains sense-making mechanisms for that information. It stands to reason then, that if you can present your senses with made-up information, your perception of reality would also change in response to it. You would be presented with a version of reality that isn’t really there, but from your perspective it would be perceived as real. Something we would refer to as a virtual reality.”

So, in summary, virtual reality entails presenting our senses with a computer generated virtual environment that we can explore in some fashion.

At the University of Illinois, I encountered , the Cave.

The Cave

CAVE_HDR_small

This shows the hardware. The CAVE was immersive.

The term “CAVE” refers to any virtual reality system that uses multiple walls with multiple projectors to immerse users in a virtual world. The first CAVE was built in 1992 as a method of showing of scientific visualizations. Now, many universities have their own CAVE systems. The CAVE is used for visualizing data, for demonstrating 3D environments, and for virtually testing component parts of newly developed engineering

. The examples I saw were one walking tour of Florence, a Roller Coaster Ride, a Walk in a Garden, and a program that shows children how to cross a street. There was also a farm scene but what I remember about that was touching a flower and hearing a bee coming at me. That was fun.

Another iteration of it was the “Cube”

You can explore some projects of the cube online at this site.

The ISL Cube is an immersive, stereo-capable (true 3-D) visualization chamber manufactured by TAN Projektionstechnologie of Dusseldorf, Germany.

It is located in a specially-constructed wing of the ISL building. The six surfaces of the Cube are 3-meter-square acrylic panels coated with a dark rear-projection screen material. The walls are 10mm thick and the floor and ceiling are 35mm thick. The front wall slides open to permit access and closes completely to ensure immersion of the user in the space.

You can’t take this example home, but it is amazing to explore. There are high school installations of the cube.

szglorenz.3

At Wayne City High School in downstate Illinois, the students have downloaded the Syzygy source code and are developing Cube applications in their school’s computer lab. In 2003, they coded a visualization of the dynamics of the lorenz attractor.

But that is high level immersion. As a school teacher I could just visit and hope to be invited to learn at the University of Illinois. It was a great introduction to VR.

The Internet of Things, IOT has some examples to share. It did not matter that I knew about these things, I had no tools to share them with students except through NASA and the University of Illinois . Here is the video of the Internet of Things.

The ultimate gift is this online link to ESRI

Instructional Materials

A variety of subject-focused, standards-based instructional materials is available to enhance inquiry-based learning with students. All activities are free and completely online. The instructional materials require no installations or logins and are device neutral.

– See more at: http://www.esri.com/connected#sthash.acu6xMIF.dpuf

This is the first of a two page sharing.