STEM

Earth To Serve as Living Lab in K-12 Digital Learning Platform

By fall 2016 a new digital learning platform will be introduced that sets up the Earth as a "living laboratory." Students will be immersed in games that use data from NASA, NOAA and other research sources to learn real-world science that meshes with the Next Generation Science Standards. Planet3, the company developing that software, has just received a $10 million round of funding from the founder of Switch, a Nevada-based company that runs data centers.

According to the founders, Planet3 will encourage students to gather evidence and craft conclusions through the use of data analytics and visualization. Along the way they'll also explore and contribute to real science.

Principals in Planet3 include CEO Tim Kelly, former president of the National Geographic Society during a time when the print-oriented publishing company shifted into a digital strategy, and Rob Roy, CEO of Switch. Albert Yu-Min Lin, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego, will serve as chief science officer. Kelly McGrath, a science and mathematics educator with a design engineering background, will act as chief learning officer responsible for managing development of curriculum and content.

"We all depend entirely on this Earth — 'Planet3' — to sustain life as we know it. The challenges of a rapidly changing environment are matched by the lightning-fast evolution of science and technology. Our biggest opportunity is to improve the way we engage future generations to innovate solutions," said Kelly in a press release. "Fortunately, we live in a moment in time when we can use astonishing digital tools and immersive technology to connect students and teachers to our changing planet. This exploration-based learning approach is what Planet3 will deliver."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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