Monday, March 9, 2015

Earth Wind & Water: Interactive Scientific Exploration


Photos by Elizabeth Somers and Jim Somers

          This project is going to be based on engaging an audience of varying ages in the sciences behind different activities. Science can be an especially difficult topic for people to understand, so I want to work to change that. The three activities I choose to explore are rock climbing, scuba diving, and sailing. I plan on designing and producing a website to explore these topics and educate viewers about science in a fun, interactive way. The sciences taught will be geology, meteorology, physics, oceanography, physiology, and others.  
These three activities will be displayed on an interactive website with multiple clickable elements to learn more about each activity. For example, when a user clicks to learn about scuba diving, a photo will come on the screen of it and different parts of the diver in the picture will be clickable. When the user clicks the air tank, a text box will appear explaining Boyle’s Law of air pressure. When the user clicks the diver, a text box will appear explaining how buoyancy works. When the user clicks the fish in the picture, a text box will appear explaining how light and sound changes under water causing our senses to distort. When the user clicks the water surface, a box will appear explaining ocean currents. Each explanation will be thorough and comprehensive, yet very easy to understand with graphics and charts.

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The three disciplines that will be focused on are science, communication, and education. Science is a major component of this project because the goal is to further the user’s understanding of a variety of sciences.  Having had an interest in the sciences for the majority of my life, I have developed an interdisciplinary breadth that allows me to include several different sciences. I will be able to research the sciences behind each of the chosen activities of study. My major, Scientific Communication, has also introduced me efficient communication techniques which will be used to make the information given easily accessible, easily understood, and easy to navigate. I will research how to effectively communicate information graphically. Education is the discipline that will tie the science and communication together; it’s the main goal of the project. With proper communication of science comes education. I will research the ways people learn science the most efficiently.

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The Integration Theory is what I see combining science and communication to result in education. This theory describes the process of assessing different disciplinary insights and creating a common ground between them to reach a more comprehensive overall understanding. By integrating these three disciplines, a new understanding of science can occur for users. This project will also emulate the Perspective Taking Theory. This theory describes the ability to see a difficulty from different perspectives and develop a more comprehensive understanding. This is similar to the Integration Theory, but really focuses on the ability to look at the problem (in this case the difficulty of understanding science) and looking at it in different ways, such as through communication and education.


     Thursday March 5- Sunday March 22: Find 10-15 sources
     Tuesday March 10: Project prospectus due
     Friday March 13: Draw out on paper a rough sketch of what the website will look like with functionalities
     Sunday March 15: consult with advisor about realistic goals for the website portion of the project
     Monday March 16- Tuesday March 31: Design elements and website troubleshooting with advisor (make everything ready for actual data to be inserted post-research)
     Tuesday March 31: Begin Literature Search & weed out sources, find better ones if needed (goal at least 9)
     Wednesday April 1- Friday April 17: Gather information needed and put it into comprehensive and easily-understandable format/wording
     Saturday April 18- Monday April 23: Insert information into website and do final touches
     Tuesday April 28: start project paper
     Tuesday May 5: Rough draft project paper due
     Thursday May 7: Final draft project paper due, start screen cast PowerPoint
     Sunday May 10: Yoga & breathing exercises
     Tuesday May 12: Post screen cast PowerPoint and project paper to blog by 4pm. 5 minute presentation. 


  1. I am so excited to see how this website turns out! I think this website will be a great way for people of all different ages to learn about different science in fun environment. Making the website interactive will engage your audience to want to see and learn more. Taking science aspects and applying them to activities that people do is a creative way for people to learn. Not only will they be scuba diving, but they will know the science behind it because of your website! When explaining the scientific aspects just make sure you word it in a way that your audience will understand. Proper wording will help them to understand the subject manner and make them less hesitant to want to learn about science. I have to do this my capstone since my project incorporates science as well!

    1. Thanks Heather I'm excited too! I found out somewhere at some point a while ago (I wish I remembered where) that the 6th grade mind is like a universal language. So I'm going to keep it real simple so that someone as young as around 11ish could understand!

  2. This is going to be totally cool if it works out, Izzy! When you talk about "science," there is so much jammed into that-- it's not so much a discipline as a collection of disciplines. So I wonder if you can do something to explain not just the science, but also which disciplines you are engaging (so that young people will know that they are engaging with specific physics or meteorology). It might be a nice way to help a science-oriented student figure out what path they are going to choose...or think about how they want to integrate the fields as you are doing! Anyway, the technical parts of this project are not going to be simple, so start work on that aspect soon! Very exciting!

    1. Thanks Robin! I totally get what you're saying, I think it's important to understand what the science is, not just what it is saying. I'm going to make it clear what scientific discipline is being visited with each topic, but I think we should revisit this once I have it all put together initially so see if it flows well and I should add anything for clarification. Because I think at that point adding information about the field would be pretty easy. And I actually took spring break to create most of the website so the technical stuff is almost out of the way :)

  3. Hello Izzy! This is a cool project (coming from a biologist!) and I hope you see it to fruition. I wonder if you might have part of it aimed at kids in the years at which they tend to stop being interested in science (middle schoolers), in particular? It seems that something shifts then, and that might be a key target audience to attempt to educate. -Dr. O'Donnell

    1. Dr. O'Donnell, as I mentioned to Heather above, I'm going to use a very simple language so that younger kids around 6th grade and above should understand with ease. I definitely agree that middle school is the point where kids can have just the slightest event turn them off to science completely, like a failed test. I'm really interested in making science interesting to this particular age group, so I agree!

  4. The first step of the broad model, define problem or state the question, will be hard for my project specifically. The overall reason I'm doing this project is to help the average person understand scientific concepts in a relatable way. There isn't a question necessarily, and the problem itself isn't what I'm researching. So I'll have to figure that out.

    The second step, justify using an interdisciplinary approach, is solidified by the fact that the overarching problem of people not being interested in science or not communicated properly about science. The solution is the communication and methods of education. Without thinking further into it at all those 3 disciplines are automatically involved and all of their perspectives are imperative.

    The third step of the broad model, identify relevant disciplines, is also something that I'm trying to work out. The overall disciplines are science, education and communication. But within the science discipline I'm using multiple different scientific disciplines such as physics, oceanography, cartography, and meteorology. The communication and communication disciplines are going to be integrated into the website without being explicitly talked about- the content will be educating while effectively communicating.

    The fourth step, conduct literature research, is going to be a big one. I have conducted all the research I need for the science stuff, but I need to do research still for the communication and education portions. This is the most important part because I have to make sure that I use these disciplines wisely and accurately to portray my information in the best way.