Project Overview

Virtual Galapagos: An Innovative, Interactive Science Outreach Project

Faculty Sponsor

Karen Harpp (




The primary goal of this project is to design a way for children around the world to learn science by visiting the Galapagos Islands, virtually. Over the past few summers, we have designed modules that allow students to explore the Galapagos Islands, through interactive web-based activities, images, maps, and video. These explorations lead them to explanations of previous and ongoing scientific investigations, carried out by researchers in a variety of interrelated scientific fields. We have produced videos and explorations that explain the scientific work in accessible language, ultimately leading the students to learn fundamental concepts about how science works. We focus primarily on topics in geology, volcanology, conservation ecology, and evolutionary biology. The project is a “make your own” adventure for the students, with the capacity for them to delve into the science at considerably greater depth than is usually presented in conventional documentaries or other outreach applications. This summer, we are seeking creative programmers to create the code for the content that has been developed, so that it is an innovative, interactive web activity for middle school children.
The students participating in this project will be working with a content expert who worked on the project previously (a Colgate student), Karen Harpp (in Geology), and Joe Eakin (from the Vis Lab); we will work as a creative team to implement the project with a focused programming effort this summer.  We seek students who are creative, open to experimentation, willing to learn, have a strong interest in education and science outreach, think innovatively about using technological tools in education, be committed to producing resources for children to learn science, and, most importantly, be able to think like a kid most of the time.

Student Qualifications

Students need to have a strong background in Javascript, CSS, HTML 5, or similar web programming experience. Knowledge and experience with WebVR, AFrame, and/or WebGL tools and APIs are a bonus. Some experience with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator is needed for content implementation. Students must also be willing to experiment with code design, take constructive feedback, and explore new ideas to achieve the educational goals of the outreach project. Students should be innovative, intellectually playful, and open to experimentation.

Number of Student Researchers

2 students

Project Length

10 weeks

Applications open on 01/03/2020 and close on 03/11/2020

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (