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Interactive globe shows learners the wonders of our planet

A Magic Planet digital video makes it easier for people to understand dynamic global systems – whether it’s climate, the biosphere or geologic history (Picture: Magic Planet)

SAEON’s Thomas Mtontsi explores the functions of the 41cm Magic Planet Digital Video Globe during his training in London (Picture: Adam Corrie)

Thomas visits the UK’s National Oceanographic Centre (Picture: Adam Corrie)

Thomas (centre) poses with a study group that took a course and toured the UK’s National Oceanographic Centre (Picture: Dr Simon Boxall)

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Dr Simon Boxall, Director of Outreach of the UK’s National Oceanographic Centre, explains different methods of observing the oceans (Picture: Thomas Mtontsi)

- Thomas Mtontsi, Education Outreach Officer, SAEON Egagasini Node

Earlier this year, SAEON’s Egagasini Node acquired a Magic Planet Digital Video Globe, providing me with an opportunity to visit the United Kingdom to study innovative ways to support science skills development at high schools.

The Magic Planet Digital Video Globe is an ideal tool to accelerate and support the integration of environmental sciences into the school science curriculum. The Globe allows its users to view and explore dynamic digital media of the Earth and other planets.

It is a computer display with a sphere-shaped screen and is controlled by a PC or another video source such as a streaming media server, so it can display any global image. Its main function is to present global information and global context in a compelling and interactive way to improve the way people understand and act upon dynamic global systems and situations.

Whether the audience consists of children in a museum, adults at a tradeshow or executives in a space systems organisation, a Magic Planet Digital Video Globe makes it easier for people to understand dynamic global systems – whether it’s climate, the biosphere or geologic history. The device is manufactured by Global Imagination in the United States, which has training facilities in the US and UK.

Soon after the Node had acquired this interactive magical globe, I left for London where Adam Corrie of Globe Imaginations conducted in-depth training into the use of the device. The training will go a long way in ensuring that the staff members of SAEON’s Education Outreach Programme care for and use this tool in the best possible way.

I used the opportunity to pay a quick visit to the UK’s National Oceanographic Centre to meet with Centre’s Director of Outreach, Dr Simon Boxall and discuss their education outreach component. The Centre runs some highly successful programmes, of which two are particularly relevant for SAEON’s Marine Science Education programme — classroom@sea and the ocean4kids.

Dr Boxall shared the challenges and successes of the two programmes, which have now become part of the SAEON education outreach staff’s learning curve as some elements can be adapted to our own circumstances. The discussion also explored potential collaboration opportunities between the Centre and SAEON.

We trust that the interventions will positively influence the development of our country’s future scientists.

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“Solution of the educational problems facing us requires research on learning and teaching methods, in particular in remedial programs. These are areas where developments in the area of cognitive sciences are showing promise of helping make substantial improvements. Thus it is important to develop research in science education (Grayson 1991), including in particular research into learning and teaching in the critical area of mathematics - the primary stumbling block to entry into serious science studies.” - George F R Ellis (2001)

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