To Be, Rather Than to Seem

Using VR and 3D Printing to Explore Coral Reefs

This Monday and Tuesday, Mrs. Hendrickson’s 7thgrade science classes learned about the modern and ancient coral reefs in Florida. Dr. Amanda Waite, a marine geologist, paleontologist, and paleoceanographer from the ANGARI Foundation, visited the classes, teaching the students about corals and the Florida Keys reef tract. 

The ANGARI Foundation was established in 2016, and is dedicated to creating a global community that is interested, knowledgeable, and invested in marine and environmental sciences by supporting research that fosters a greater trust and dialogue between scientists and the public. The Foundation uses innovative technology, film, and other media to raise awareness and strengthen science education.

Dr. Waite was invited into the middle school to teach students about the localities they would visit on their upcoming Florida Keys Trip in November, as well as how to identify the corals they might see while there. During the lesson, the students took a virtual reality fieldtrip to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The film taught them about the different methods scientists are using to study and conserve coral reefs. You can view the 360 degree video here

After watching the video, students examined 3D-printed models of modern corals (printed here at AHN!) and looked at fossil corals from the Key Largo Limestone. They noted the qualities and identified which types they may find on their fieldtrip.

This project not only gave the students the opportunity to dive deeper into the concepts that they will be exploring on their fieldtrip next month, but got them excited about conservation and allowed them to have a better grasp on why our coral reefs are a vital part of the ecosystem. 

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