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  • “Tour of the new Grand Canyon sim on the NOVA site” by Gregory Perrier – Greg Prumier and William F. Schmachtenberg – Dae Miami

When: 2016/09/16 1 PM SLT (PDT)

Destination: The Grand Canyon @ NOVA Virtual Campus @ Second Life

We’re attending: “Tour of the new Grand Canyon sim on the NOVA site” by Gregory Perrier – Greg Prumier and William F. Schmachtenberg – Dae Miami

Next presentation: 2016/09/24, 10 AM SLT (PDT). Myron Curtis “STEM, career awareness among women”

More information: Science Circle Students in-world group (click the link while logged on in Second Life to open the group profile), The Science Circle website, NOVA website

Video: In development – check back later for the link!

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The Grand Canyon needs no introduction. Along with its stunning natural beauty, which has been a source of inspiration for countless artists of all the different fields, from painters to photographers to film makers, its importance in studying geology and earth history is no less appreciated, thanks to the fact that it contains about a billion years of geological history within itself. So much The Grand Canyon fascinates people from all around the world, there are no less than two Grand Canyon replicas in Second Life. One invites its tourists to go sightseeing, ride a vehicle around, ride the zip line, and altogether appreciate the aesthetics and the atmosphere (and buy souvenirs). The other, brought to Second Life by the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and located at the NOVA virtual campus, focuses on the geological side of The Grand Canyon, by displaying all the different layers along with thorough explanations of them, and therefore helps us learn more about The Grand Canyon as an object of studying.

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The latter Grand Canyon has become our destination this Friday afternoon, on a tour organized by two Virginia educators, Prof. Greg Prumier (Prof. Gregory Perrier in real life), a biologist who was the one to bring this Grand Canyon installation into Second Life in a first place, and Dr. Dae Miami (Dr. William Schmachtenberg in real life), who is a geologist and is the man to go to for learning about this large rock. Unlike the traditional Science Circle presentation, this tour has allowed us to literally dig deeper into the science of this remarkable location.

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William F. Schmachtenberg – Dae Miami (left) and Gregory Perrier – Greg Prumier

We have gathered at the bottom of the Canyon, on a small platform enveloped by the Colorado River running through, where the graphs displaying the complete overview of Grand Canyon layers had been placed. Since this is an educational site for the NOVA students, in the beginning, Prof. Prumier has talked about the interactive nature of the Grand Canyon. The entire site had been built with a goal to be self-contained and making the in-world presence of the instructor entirely voluntary. Students take a handout at the landing point, and then follow the instructions and tour the virtual Grand Canyon at their own pace – then they answer the questions on the subject and return their handouts to the instructor. Prof. Prumier plans to keep the place public for everybody – not only students of NOVA, but also students from other universities and even countries, as well as everybody interested in the Grand Canyon geology – as part of his education in virtual worlds initiative. Therefore, all educators who would like to introduce their students to the Grand Canyon can make use of this virtual site! Which definitely beats spending hundreds of dollars on travel expenses, if students’ only option to get familiar with Grand Canyon was visiting the physical site.

Then Dr. Miami took over the stage and has introduced us to the Grand Canyon as it is known in real life. He, being himself from the East Coast, had been there once. The entire tour of the Grand Canyon takes about a couple hours, where the national Park Service has labeled the layers for tourists and researchers to navigate.

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The formation of The Grand Canyon commenced about 1,2 billion years ago, therefore, as senile as it is, it does not represent the entire age of the Earth, which is about 4 times older. Thousands million years ago, the Grand Canyon area was very different from now, being a large volcanic island, a lot of factors have contributed to the formation of The Grand Canyon as we know it today. The youngest level of The Grand Canyon has been formed about 250 million years ago, ages before mammals, let alone humans, even began to thrive on the Earth – which really puts the age of The Grand Canyon into perspective!

After this introduction, we were free to tour The Grand Canyon at our own pace.

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Prof. Prumier has placed the teleport to the top of The Grand Canyon, from which a long ladder, going through all the 14 strata displayed, would return us back to the platform at the bottom.

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Each stratum, just like at the real Grand Canyon, is labeled, and the label dispenses a notecard on touch with further information about the age and the geological specifics of the stratum. It takes an explorer about half an hour to go through all the layers and reach the bottom.

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Have you missed this Science Circle tour? The good news is that the Grand Canyon does not go anywhere and stays open to everyone! You can go there anytime and take your time to tour it, and you can visit it several times, if just one turns out too overwhelming. You can bring your friends, students, teachers, anybody you would like to join you. If you meet Prof. Prumier there, do say hi – he, along with being the one who made the entire campus possible, is also a very friendly individual!

Your destination is: The Grand Canyon @ NOVA Campus

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Never stop learning!

K.T. Burnett (KayT) | The Digitized

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