New Science On a Sphere "Explorer" to be released at the end of August

Image of SOS Explore Demonstration

SOS and SOSx supports an engaged and educated public with an improved capacity to make scientifically informed decisions, part of NOAA’s engagement enterprise.

Science On a Sphere Explorer(SOSx), a downloadable flat screen version of the popular NOAA Science on a Sphere® (SOS), will be released by ESRL/GSD at the end of August. This revolutionary software will make SOS technology and datasets, usually found at museums and science centers, accessible to everyone including teachers and their classrooms.

In support of SOSx development, CIRES sponsored a workshop last week to give a sneak peek to ten teachers from local elementary and middle schools. The workshop was lead by Hilary Peddicord, Science on a Sphere (SOS) Education Specialist at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science (CIRES), at the University of Colorado Boulder.

"Data visualization is one of the easiest ways to bring big data into the classroom and make it accessible and understandable," said Peddicord.

SOSx uses off-the shelf gaming technology and it is available free of charge. "The gaming industry is a multi-billion dollar industry; it surpassed Hollywood in terms of revenue and its really using cutting-edge technology," said Eric Hackathorn, lead SOSx developer. "By leveraging that technology we can create very effective visualizations."

During the workshop, teachers downloaded and installed SOSx on their own systems to investigate collaboratively how they could use it in their classrooms. They also created and shared lesson plans using SOSx. SOS teacher workshops are accredited by the University of Colorado, adding further benefits to participants.

"We will allow the kids to discover the relationship between plate tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanoes," said fifth grade teacher Chris Newby. "They'll get a chance to look at three separate models, and draw their own conclusions as they move from station to station. It is that kind of science discovery that leads to real learning."

"They love it - they can see Earth as it really is, and it sticks with them,” said second grade teacher Kimberly Leroi. "I just think it is going to add a whole other dimension to their learning."

"Bringing SOSx into the classroom and having it as a visual tool is a huge help because students can see numbers and it doesn't make much sense, said Jayme Margolin-Sneider, a middle school teacher. "But when we show it to them in an animation or a simulation the lightbulb goes on."

For more information contact: Susan Cobb 303-497-5093