Join us for an unforgettable underwater journey that combines education and adventure as we explore one of the world’s most stunning natural wonders – coral reefs. Experience the debut of our educational virtual reality application, Virtual Reef Expedition, for an immersive adventure that you won’t forget.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to cancel our in-person education programs, just like many other field trips during that time. However, we didn’t let that setback discourage us. We joined forces with the University of Miami to secure funding and develop a virtual reality field trip that could enrich both remote and in-person learning experiences. Utilizing state-of-the-art virtual reality (VR) technology, we were able to bring this project to life thanks to the generous support from the University of Miami’s UMverse, formerly known as UM’s Extended Reality (XR) Initiative.
Our partners at Xennial Digital have developed an incredibly lifelike virtual platform where you feel like an ecologist in training, studying coral reefs from a research vessel and a seaplane. While exploring beautiful coral reefs in the South Pacific Ocean, you can learn about the three main types of coral reefs: fringing reefs, barrier reefs, and atolls. Once mastering these fundamentals, you can delve deeper to learn about the fascinating zonation patterns that define each reef type.
As you navigate through the app, you’ll be able to interact with the environment using a custom-built pencil, enabling you to take notes, draw, and annotate directly on the screen. This hands-on approach encourages active learning and engagement.
While this educational tool is available to everyone, it was primarily designed for middle and high school science classes and undergraduate students at the University of Miami who will be using this technology in their Earth System History class. Additionally, it serves as a valuable resource within our Coral Reef Ecology Curriculum, specifically for teaching about Coral Reef Types and Reef Zonation. Teachers can access lesson plans by logging in and exploring how this app can be used in conjunction with our other educational resources available on our Education Portal.
With this initial prototype, we hope to build a more robust and comprehensive VR coral reef application that will offer even more virtual learning experiences to increase ocean literacy.
Are you excited to embark on this virtual adventure? Discover the Virtual Reef Expedition by navigating to the “Discover” button in the main menu of your Oculus headset and simply search for “Virtual Reef Expedition.”
Virtual Reef Expedition
Explore the coral reefs of French Polynesia in virtual reality! As a coral reef ecologist in training, you’ll have the opportunity to master the art of identifying reef zones and types. Explore the mesmerizing beauty of the South Pacific Ocean’s fringing reefs, barrier reefs, and atolls, and learn about the fascinating zonation patterns that define each reef type. Join us for an unforgettable journey that combines education and adventure as we explore one of the world’s most stunning natural wonders.