I Dig Tanzania

One of the other recent MacArthur Foundation Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning posts, highlights a video about the I Dig Science Programs that Global Kids ran in partnership with the Field Museum in Chicago.

You can watch the video below or view the original post here.


I Dig from Spotlight on Vimeo.


WhyReef Screen shot
We are excited to share the news that our friends at the Field Museum of Chicago have teamed up with the tween virtual world Whyville to launch Whyreef: a virtual educational experience for young people to teach them about biodiversity and ecosystems. In Whyreef, you are challenged to observe different coral reefs and carefully record the species of animal and plantlife you encounter there, such as the spinner dolphin, the hawksbill sea turtle, and the humphead parrotfish. Beyond just basic biology education, the players will "work together to address environmental challenges threatening these fragile ecosystems" according to the press release.

OLP's 2008 Year End Review 

GK 2008 year in review
The year 2008 was a remarkable period for the Online Leadership Program at Global Kids. It is challenging to even pick just a few standouts: An AIDS orphan in Ugandan exchanges text messages from her cell phone with a dozen teenagers in Teen Second Life; high school students conceive and produce a web-based game about local heroes during Hurricane Katrina; youth produce a seven-minute long animated movie about racism as an obstacle to education around the world; a high school class in Brooklyn uses a virtual world to learn about and create their own simulations about science; hundreds of young people across four virtual worlds watch Kofi Annan receive a major human rights award; incarcerated teens use a virtual world to learn how to create positive change in their real community; youth in Chicago and New York City collaborate online with paleotologists on a fossil dig in Tanzania; nearly 1,500 educators share knowledge and advice on how to use virtual worlds for education.

[press] HASTAC writes about RezEd.org, I Dig Tanzania and Virtual Worlds 

Recently on the HASTAC, The Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory blog, Sheryl Grant writes on RezEd.org, virtual worlds and Global Kids programs like I Dig Tanzania.

In the I Dig Tanzania summer camp, students were part of a guided experience, using avatars to bridge gaps of distance and understanding with the help of educators and mentors. Given how easy it is to be invisible and anonymous online, virtual worlds can sometimes raise ethical questions -- for youth and adults alike. Like anything that we do with kids, positive mentoring and best practices play an important role, themes that run through RezEd's community.

It has some great quotes from James Paul Gee, and our own Amira Fouad and Barry Joseph.

"Virtual worlds are not escapist fantasies but a new way to extend our lives and our sense of self. How can virtual worlds expand our lives in new ways," asks Joseph, "What social affects arise as a result, and are these results desirable?" It will be communities of practice like RezEd and pioneering groups like Global Kids that will help determine the answers.

Click here, to read the full article.

[conf] M Linden gives Global Kids two shout-outs at SLCC 08 talk 

Philip & Mark Breakfast Talk

Philip Rosendale and Mark Kingdon (i.e. Philip and M Linden) of Linden Lab gave a friendly breakfast talk for Day Two of the Second Life Community Convention in Tampa, Florida.  Philip is of course always good on the stump, speaking fancifully about the potential for Second Life for distance meetings, international cultural exchange and even space exploration.  Mark was more grounded, speaking about Linden Lab’s priorities for the coming year, including improving stability, creating a better new user experience, opening up the grid, and supporting the business and educational activities in SL better.

It was almost embarassing that Global Kids got two shout-outs from the podium this morning, Mark talking about how he gets “choked up” every time he thins about his experience visiting our office!  I’m proud of our work, and its great seeing it recognized by the higher ups at Linden Lab.

[IDT] "I Dig Tanzania" promo video! 

In July 2008, Global Kids, the Field Museum of Chicago and the Biodiversity Synthesis Center worked together to organize the "I Dig Tanzania" virtual summer camp. This innovative project brought together 16 teens in Chicago and New York to learn about paleontology, scientific field research, and Tanzania culture using the virtual world of Teen Second Life.

We knew that explaining the camp to outsiders was going to be difficult. So we had this short video put together to describe the teens' experience. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed organizing the camp. Please share this with your colleagues and friends who are curious about what happens in Second Life!

[IDT] Overview of I Dig Tanzania Part 2: Chicago 

teen group shot
From July 24-28, Global Kids and the Field Museum of Chicago brought together a group of teens from New York and Chicago for the second part of the "I Dig Tanzania" summer program. This was Part 2 of the "I Dig Tanzania" summer camp, which took place from June 28 to July 2 in the virtual world of Teen Second Life. You can read a summary of the virtual dig here.

Over the course of the weekend, the teens met in-person with some of the researchers who were in Tanzania, explored the Field Museum, did presentations to the public about what they have learned, and learned more about paleontology, evolution, biology, Tanzanian music and culture, and science behind the scenes at the museum. And by all accounts they had a fantastic time.

The following is a summary of their experiences...

Day 1

[IDT] Final Reflection 

I feel a lot more knowledgeable in the field of paleontology and a bit more comfortable with working online. It’s been fun interacting online and offline as well. It’s been a very fun experience, and definitely worth the while. Also with the last two days we learned a lot about how the museum works, and what they do with all the “junk” they have. I feel like a huge catalog of information. Now then people brag that they got to go “behind the scenes,” or talk to the scientist, I can just say “been there, done that, dude.” -Mohammad El-Abid

[IDT] Final Reflection 

This program has been a wonderful experience, it has taught me better computer skills and improved my skills for working in a group. These are both positive changes that this program has given me. Now I also know many methods of communicating with a group of people and completing projects. The change I am most proud of is the computer skills I gained in SL. I am proud of these changes because I am now more aware of how virtual worlds work and what it is like to learn in a virtual world. Another change I didn’t mention earlier is how I am also more aware of the dedication, patience, and hard work is needed to become a paleontologist. Before I was a little blind to what this job entails but now I can say I appreciate what these people do much more than I did before this program. I have gained so much knowledge from this program. -Olivia Bailey