Project Overview

Virtual Galapagos

Faculty Sponsor

Karen Harpp (




This is the pilot phase of a potentially longer term project whose primary objective is to design a way for children around the world to learn science by visiting the Galapagos Islands, virtually. We are going to design modules that allow students to explore aspects of the Galapagos Islands, through images, maps, and video (and potentially virtual reality, ultimately). These explorations will lead them to explanations of previous and ongoing scientific investigations, carried out by researchers in a variety of fields. We will produce videos and animations that explain the scientific work in accessible terms, ultimately leading the students to learn fundamental concepts about geology, volcanology, conservation ecology, and evolutionary biology; it will be a kind of “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. We will also design interactive activities for the students to enhance the learning process. This summer, we will begin by designing a prototype app as the platform for the project, focusing on a small number of concepts to determine whether this project can be scaled up to be a major educational resource. The two students participating in this project will be working with Karen Harpp (in Geology) and Joe Eakin (from the Vis Lab) as members of our creative team.

Student Qualifications

We expect students to be intellectually nimble, be willing to learn and use a variety of different technologies (video editing, app programming, animation design), carry out research in a range of scientific fields from geology to biology, interface professionally with scientists doing research in the Galapagos, think innovatively about using technological tools in education, be committed to producing resources for children to learn science, and be able to think like a kid on occasion. The Geology Department encourages students interested in summer research to meet with potential faculty supervisors before submitting an application.

Number of Student Researchers

2 students

Project Length

10 weeks

Applications open on 01/15/2017 and close on 02/07/2017

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (