Here’s some video from the launch of the "I Dig Tanzania" intensive summer camp that I am helping facilite for the next few days.
Yesterday the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and Global Kids launched an intensive summer camp for a group of teens in New York and Chicago that we call "I Dig Tanzania." Sixteen teens volunteered to participate in this ground-breaking initiative that uses the virtual world of Second Life to educate them about Tanzanian culture and politics, scientific research and methodology.
My co-workers Shawna, Dominique and I ran the program from New York, working closely with several educators in Chicago. It’s been a really fun collaboration, even done mostly over the telephone and virtually.
The challenges of managing a project of this scale are myriad. For the camp we need ten computers in New York and another dozen computers in Chicago all connected to Second Life, which given the bandwidth and computing requirements of SL is a tall order. On both sites, we set up large projectors to show video, which was streamed in-world instead of simply pre-loaded. Most interestingly, we are connecting the students with a team of field researchers searching for fossils in Tanzania right now, which involves receiving recorded video from the dig sites as well as coordinating a daily Skype conversation with the team that is then streamed into the Teen Grid of Second Life. Whew!
We’ve got three more days of virtual fossil hunting to go! Then in late July we pack our New York teens into a plane and take them to Chicago to meet their counterparts in person for the first time, as well as several of the researchers who will have returned from Tanzania by that time.