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Icon for: Jennifer Moslemi


CaravanLab, Wright State University, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Into the Rift: Journey to an African rift lake

NSF Awards: 1209914

2016 (see original presentation & discussion)

Informal / multi-age

Into the Rift takes you on a journey to Lake Tanganyika in the heart of the African Rift Valley. You’ll see some of the unique natural features of the lake and learn why the Tanganyikan ecosystem is important to the people who live near it. Like many other lakes around the world, Tanganyika is not immune to threats posed by humans. Fortunately scientists are working to better understand these threats, learning how we might protect Tanganyika and the valuable resources it provides to local people. Intro the Rift highlights these scientists and the research they conduct at Tanganyika, providing a window into what it is like to be a field biologist.

The Into the Rift experience is based on interactive video, enabling visitors to move through deeper layers of the story at the pace they choose, accessing additional multimedia-based information at key points in the narrative. In this way viewers can control their experience, choosing when to dive deeper into the story of Lake Tanganyika and the science taking place there.

Visit the website at IntoTheRift.org

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Discussion from the NSF 2016 STEM For All Video Showcase (11 posts)
  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Co-Principal Investigator
    May 17, 2016 | 08:47 a.m.

    Very attractive work.
    I could imagine that material like this might be very effective in sparking discussions with resource managers and policy makers around the lake— these people who are balancing so many competing imperatives!

  • Icon for: Jennifer Moslemi

    Jennifer Moslemi

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 02:26 p.m.

    Thanks for the comment Brian. Yes, we hope this kind of approach will raise awareness among many different audience types. Though our primary target audience is adolescents who may be wondering what it is like to “do” science in the field.

  • Icon for: Pati Ruiz

    Pati Ruiz

    Dean of Studies
    May 17, 2016 | 10:52 a.m.

    his interactive journey places the learner in the African Rift Valley through your beautiful images. The self-paced learning environment seems to accommodate a variety of learners. I look forward to seeing the teaching materials that seem to be coming soon.

    Will these teaching materials be tailored to different age ranges? Also, how do you plan on ensuring that students engage with each part of the journey as they explore the different layers? Will you embed checks for understanding? Will teachers scaffold the experience for learners?

  • Icon for: Jennifer Moslemi

    Jennifer Moslemi

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 02:39 p.m.

    Thanks for your thoughts, Pati. At the moment members of our team are in the process of creating teaching materials related to middle school-aged students. As they are still in development, I can’t yet speak to the details of the materials. I am hopeful they will encourage students to explore for answers to teacher-led questions in a self-guided way, nudging them to dive into different sections of the “journey” to piece together answers to broader questions about the connection between in-tact ecosystems and human well-being.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Moslemi

    Jennifer Moslemi

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2016 | 02:59 p.m.

    Some additional background info about the Into the Rift project for those interested:

    Into the Rift highlights research efforts at Lake Tanganyika led by Drs. Yvonne vadeboncoeur at Wright State University and Peter McIntyre at University of Wisconsin. The project team also includes Drs. Lisa Kenyon, a biologist and education specialist, and Elliot Gaines, a communication specialist, both at Wright State University. I represent CaravanLab, a science-focused media organization that teamed up with the researchers to create an interactive experience that would enable students to “travel” to the lake to see HOW science is done in the field and WHY it is important that the scientists work to better understand the lake dynamics.

    It is our hope that the project will raise awareness of what it is like to be a field biologist and why in-tact ecosystems matter for human well-being.

    I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about the project and the creation of the media materials associated with it.

  • Icon for: Jenna Marks

    Jenna Marks

    Doctoral Student in Cognitive Studies in Education
    May 17, 2016 | 07:29 p.m.

    This seems like a wonderful introduction into a larger curriculum about ecosystems and the dynamic array of influences on them. I too am excited to see what co-curricular materials get developed.

    What are the next steps with this project? Have you launched this in any schools or worked with a set of users at this time? I would love to hear about how it is being received and used by the target population.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Moslemi

    Jennifer Moslemi

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 03:27 p.m.

    Thanks Jenna. Next steps include launching the project. We have plans to contact aquariums and zoos as well as science on-air personalities to spread the website via social media channels. Tanganyikan cichlids are a popular fish among aquarium hobbyists. We also hope to target these hobbyists as an audience who may be interested in the website, if resources permit. As far as in-classroom activities, we plan to launch in Ohio schools and spread the teaching materials to teachers who may find them useful in other states.

    Despite not having officially launched the site, we do have some sense of how it is being received from a summative evaluation conducted by the external evaluator on the project. The evaluation found that most testers of the site were excited, engaged, and wanted to learn more.

    We got some good feedback from teachers too, including:
    “This site is way more up to date than most education websites we use in school. This is like a virtual lab. The sites we use are circa 2000 web pages with multiple choice questions and bad clip art. Not as clean looking as this and the information is not presented well as this site.”

    “I would give this a 5-star rating. A typical generic school lab is often incomplete. You have to go to an alternate source to get all the information. With this website it’s all there.”

  • Icon for: Avron Barr

    Avron Barr

    May 18, 2016 | 09:20 a.m.

    Interesting and visually captivating project. Thank Jennifer. Have you had any experience yet with students running through the material?

  • Icon for: Jennifer Moslemi

    Jennifer Moslemi

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 03:48 p.m.

    Thank you Avron. The external evaluator of the project has tested the website with students. They reported that “All students gave effusive praise to the topic and presentation. All testers strongly preferred this site over educational media currently used in their school.” We considered that good news! However, the evaluation also pointed out some hang-ups with navigation through the site that we have since attempted to address.

  • Icon for: Nancy Romance

    Nancy Romance

    May 19, 2016 | 04:21 p.m.

    Is this interactive video appropriate for multiple age levels or is it primarily for high school age students?

  • Icon for: Jennifer Moslemi

    Jennifer Moslemi

    Lead Presenter
    May 20, 2016 | 02:28 p.m.

    Hi Nancy. It’s appropriate for multiple age levels, from upper middle school on up.

  • Further posting is closed as the event has ended.