Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tech Savvy

Welcome to Biolandia, a scientific sim for schoolkids, where in a few days it's going to be Party Time! *digs out crazy co-ed costume* ...but more on that later.

Biolandia is on Craft Grid, and it was built by middle-school teacher, Michelle Tech, who uses her skills to inspire young students to learn the basics of science - chemistry, math, and biology. Michelle won a
national prize in her native Italy for a series of videos - made in Open Sim - explaining geometry. There are five or six vids, I picked this one to show you, based on my well-documented love affair with the slow rotation script.

Using a big screen in the classsroom, Michelle presents all kinds of lesson content to her class. The chemistry zone is particularly striking.
Michelle Tech: This is an atom, which I use for my first chemistry lessons; there's a room inside, with mini atoms, and power point presentations explaining the basic functions of the atom's parts. Next door is an enormous water molecule, also containing a presentation space on the properties of water.
Looking at the structures, I wondered what was the most difficult aspect of her work.
Michelle Tech: Building in itself is not a problem. What's difficult is making the concepts readily understandable and relevant. For example, I made a CD on the actions of antibiotics at the molecular level. These things have to be simple enough that younger students can follow it. It's got to be thorough without being trite, because I work with multiple levels and age groups. I do live classes, and review videos (made right here in Craft) and I and my students made a CD. I couldn't have done it without so many wonderful friends, first and foremost, Akim Alonzo who assisted me with getting my server up and running, and generally led me through my first uncertain steps in OpenSim. I just started experimenting with Moodle, which is an e-learning platform, and Paidos Woodall as been helping me with that; I've also had a lot of support from Vicus Serenity; Ivano Ragu has been a great help with scripts. But really, everyone in Craft has been quick to help out. it's been great.
We flew up to a giant Rubik's Cube; it houses 'Mathlandia'. and here Michelle rezzed another creation.
Michelle Tech: Click on the ball! This shows the students what happens in methane combustion. What I want eventually to put together is a series of self-guided tours, a place that the children can visit even when I'm not inworld. I'd like to make it a sort of interactive museum. I try to make the structures interesting, to keep the students curiosity alive.
Speaking of curiosity, I wondered what her kids make of her avatar, and the whole 3D learning experience.
Michelle Tech: I deliberately made my avie quite different from my real self, to demonstrate that inworld, anything is possible. I also made it different from my SL avatar, in order to keep the two activities - this place, for work, and SL, for relaxation - completely separate. The children find it all quite interesting. They're curious; however, they often equate fun with goofing off - in other words, if something is entertaining, they think that there's no need to study.
The challenge, as always, is to make it both amusing and involving. But there's more to this place than molecules. It has real heart and soul, a soul born in Trulli. It's a magical mix that can't fail to enchant, and was the first part of Michelle's building project.
The latest part is perhaps the most exciting.
Michelle Tech:  Right now I'm working on a project called 'Create the Ideal City.' It's a huge amount of work, but what I love about it is that I get to mix work with the pleasure of building. Come and check in with me at the end of the school year to see how it all worked out!
Before that, though, come and party with the good people of Craft. Biolandia will be hosting something called 'Taranta's Feast' at 10.00pm CET on Tuesday October 18th, so get those molecules into gear and come visit the lovely Craft grid. Don't forget to bring an apple, of course. For Teacher.


  1. i suppose you can guess why this resonates with me so much! ^^

  2. when i wrote it i thought of you, in fact