Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education

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SECOND PHYSICS: POPULARIZATION AND OUTREACH OF SCIENCE ... Second Physics, founded in 2007 by Talete Flanagan, is an Italian no-profit group for ...
Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education March 2011

Mission Statement The Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education (VWBPE) is a community-based conference that provides opportunities for participants in all virtual worlds to share current teaching, learning, and research practices in 3D virtual environments. Conference presentations focus on teaching/learning, scholarly work, projects, events, activities and new and innovative tools for virtual education. Presenters will focus on the identification of best practices in education designed for 3D virtual world technology.

Published in Association with Rockcliffe University Consortium (c) 2011

2011 Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Executive Committee The Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference is held in trust for the Educational Community by Rockcliffe University Consortium who are responsible for the financial, copyright, and infrastructure concerns of the conference. The VWBPE Executive is made up of member from Rockcliffe’s Board of Directors and Advisory Board. This year‘s Executive Committee was comprised of Kevin Feenan Kae Novak Chris Luchs

[SL: Phelan Corrimal] [SL: Kavon Zenovka] [SL: Abacus Capalini]

Chairman, Rockcliffe University Consortium RUC Advisory Board Member RUC Advisory Board Member

Committee Chairs Finance & Logistics:

Kevin Feenan

(SL: Phelan Corrimal)


Kevin Feenan

(SL: Phelan Corrimal)


Deb McCormick Lorraine Mockford

(SL:Seeker Esparza), (SL: LoriVonne Lustre)


Chris Luchs

(SL: Abacus Capalini)


Kae Novak Rurik Nackerud Chris Luchs

(SL:Kavon Zenovka), (SL:Rurik Bellingshausen) (SL: Abacus Capalini)


Rosie Vojtek Marie Booz

(SL: Roxie Niero), (SL: Mandie Mimulus)


Rinda M. Conwell

(SL: MLani Montgomery)

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2011 Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education

SECOND PHYSICS: POPULARIZATION AND OUTREACH OF SCIENCE IN THE ITALIAN SECOND LIFE COMMUNITY Beatrice Boccardi [SL: Calliope Lexington] Second Physics Franco L. Fabbri [SL:Talete Flanagan] Second Physics Michela Fragona [SL: Marjorie Fargis] SLArt Antonio Nardone [SL: Swina Allen] Giovanna Parolini [SL: Giovanna Delphin] Immersiva.2life Renato P. dos Santos [SL: Otaner Merlin] Second Life Physics

Abstract This paper describes the aims and the activities of the group Second Life, starting from the exhibit presented at the 2011 VW-BPE Conference in Second Life. The educational events and instruments for science popularization have been carried out between 2009-2011. The virtual world Second Life is an immersive environment ideal as a laboratory for experimentation and the production of culture sharing cooperating. Keywords: immersive, metaverse, science popularization, adult education, integration, collaboration, twinning.

Introduction Created as a programme for entertainment, Second Life has been rapidly recognized for its potentialities in the field of education and of the promotion of scientific culture. We are convinced that human beings acquire most knowledge through hands-on experiences and through their interactions - with other human beings and with the surrounding environment. The self-managed formative programmes and the socializing feature of the Internet, the Web 2.0 in particular, based on practice and characterized by immersiveness, have proved to have a good efficacy. The 3D worlds are their natural evolution, and Second Life is a field for experimentation and the creation and dissemination of culture [1].

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2011 Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education

The exhibit of Second Physics at VW-BPE 2011 Second Physics, founded in 2007 by Talete Flanagan, is an Italian no-profit group for the popularization and outreach of science in Second Life, where it has been operating permanently since 2008. This year we have joined the VW-BPE with a poster session showing our activities in SL since the group was created. The presentation of Second Physics runs "Physics is around us in every moment of our lives, it has built our present and prepares our future": our mission is the diffusion of scientific culture in SL, physics especially, but our activities deal also with other branches of science. We have 1380 members, comprised a great number of English-speaking avatars. In this paper we report the contents presented at the exhibit at the 2011 VW-BPE Conference by Second Physics, the educational events and instruments and for science popularization carried out between 2009-2011 in collaboration with the groups Immersiva.2life, SLArt, and with the twinned group Second Life Physics. SLArt also operates with Esplica No-Profit, Laboratory for the Dissemination of Science and Culture in the Digital Age, which puts up cross events [2]. The exhibit has displayed six main programmes for the popularization of science: Scienza on the Road, Second Campus, Scien&Art, Science Cafè, Scienza in Tour, The Illusions and Guessing Game.

Second Life and Science Popularization The main features of the potentialities of SL are the environment with its operational possibilities (building, scripting), and avatar psychology. Teachers and learners at the same time, can use the creative tools in a participatory way based upon sharing in an immersive environment: you are there and you can really work together to build shapes, experiments, ideas. Science communication in Second Life follows two main ways. The first is the educational channel, usually a support for courses in Real Life. In this case the content and the format are not flexible and immersivity is not the most significant element. The second channel aims at the diffusion and awakening on scientific topics. In this case, one is not locked in the limits of a school programme and the formats can exploit the peculiarities of the immersive system. The last way is of particular relevance to the activities of Second Physics, which deals with the adult and permanent education. Besides the individuation of the educational aims and the content of the activity – the specific knowledge to transmit, the most recent developments, the education to a rational, scientific way of thinking, the reflection on how science is communicated in the media - it is also important the choice of the proper format (conversation, lesson, interaction with the audience), the place and time, and the multimedia to be used.

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2011 Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education As for communication, besides Italian and English notices and IMs in SL, our events are also advertised in RL through our blog (, Facebook, the publication of articles in inworld and online magazines, etc. and many events are broadcasted in streaming (below).

The projects Since its beginning, Second Physics has created and carried out a number of projects, on its own or through partnerships and twinnings with other Italian and foreign groups. Scienza on the Road Second Physics carries out Scienza on the Road together with Immersiva.2life, Italian group for the popularization of culture and art. Scienza on the Road is an itinerant project that combines the aim of bringing science popularization in the Italian lands with the integration of the Italian communities in the metaverse. Thanks to the touring structure of the project, physicists, teachers and experts with teaching and popularizing experience in RL can reach a more numerous and varied audience in the lands where the residents usually hang out, if compared to any other resident activity. The topics range from Physics to Astronomy, from Sub-nuclear Physics to High Energy Physics, to Mathematics, Acoustics, Optics, from the History of Electricity, Neurology, Medicine, Age Setting of Cultural Goods, to Emotional Economy, Science and scientific fiction, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Cyberscience, Computer Science, Music and Mathematics, Molecular Biology. The format is a 1-hour presentation, after which the audience can ask questions on the subject and discuss with the teachers. The audience can also interact with captivating tools like sculptures, fractals, atomic models, optical illusions. So far, 3700 residents have attended between 2009 and 2010, and 56 lands have been reached, with 20 teachers and experts.

A poster of Scienza on the Road The project has had several editions and a new edition is going to start while we are writing. This year we are planning sessions also into the English-speaking lands. The events can be watched in web

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2011 Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education streaming [4]. This means that the metaverse can reach Real Life and those people who cannot, for some reason, enter inworld. The conversations are in Italian, and from this year in English, too. Second Campus The first semester of Second Campus started in February 2011. The classes are structured in 1-hour lessons in Italian, usually for 5 or 6 lessons, each with final debate among the teacher and the students. They take place at 9:00 pm Italian time (Noon SLT) in the land of Second Physics. The target is students of science and literature and adults interested in the knowledge of new instruments for popularization, and who want to know more about science and scientific thinking. The students receive lecture notes and attestation. This semester has opened with a course on Literature and Science, and will go on with The Civilization of the Double, the Cosmic Rays and an innovative course on the Blender. Different themes that walk through the intertwinement of literature and science, the story of the mechanic dolls and robots, the discovery of the cosmic rays messengers of the Big Bang, the tri-dimensional modeling, rendering and animation. Literature, science, cyberscience, philosophy, physics, cosmology and graphics techniques: each semester has its own strand, linking these apparently very different approaches. This time the theme is ―the copy and the double‖, and it is meant to build a new ground for discussion and cultural production. At the end of each semester, we are going to discuss the main topic in a meeting-debate among the teachers and other experts and the students. Scien&Art The relationship between art and science, especially mathematics and physics, can be traced back to the ancient times of our culture, from the idea of harmony in the Greek architecture, based on the Golden Section, to the tools for observation at the beginning of the Scientific Revolution, to the modern instruments for dating and identification, or new colours and materials for the artistic production itself. The basic tools of Second Life, building and scripting, favour the production of artworks endowed with the quality of manipulability that meet the requirements of the modern teaching methods and popularization of science more easily than in RL [3]. Scien&Art is a project by Second Physics and SLArt, with the collaboration of other Italian and foreign groups, now at the second edition, aimed at accompanying the artists to express their creativity through scientific concepts and help scientists to communicate creatively. The topics of the first contest were the Atom, the Big Bang, the Cosmic Rays, Electricity, Nanotechnology and the Strings. Besides an artistic jury and a scientific jury, the works were also submitted to the public vote. Scien&Art is also powered by Esplica, No-Profit, Laboratory for the Dissemination of Science and Culture in the Digital Age. Cafè della Scienza The "Café della Scienza" (Science Cafè) in the land of Second Physics opened in May 2010. The format, created by Second Physics and SL Crazy and Press is structured as an informal conversation between the presenter and a special guest who tells the audience his scientific passions, his SL experience or introduces the last science news. The events are completed by the reading of articles, vision of clips and special interviews. The Cafès deal with science in the broadest sense: from the energy issues to the meaning of the life experiences in SL and their repercussion is RL, from the Time Scale and the micromoments to the age of the universe, the electric car and the sustainable development, the more recent SL viewer or Esperanto as the universal language. The audience interact with the guest through questions and expressing their curiosity, so the meeting is similar to a dialogue that all the residents contribute to build. The time is fixed, 9:00 pm Italian time (Noon SLT), before the prime time events, but the scheduling is not. Though the events are expected to last no more than an hour, often the audience is so interested, bright and lively, they last longer than that [4]. The Cafè della Scienza is also powered by Esplica, No-Profit, Laboratory for the Dissemination of Science and Culture in the Digital Age.

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2011 Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education

Talete Flanagan at a Cafè della Scienza

Second Life Partnerships Second Life Physics, founded by Otaner Merlin, is a twinned group with Second Physics. SLPhysics aims at building a constructivist environment for the teaching of physics and we have exchanged events with it. Aiming for a wider dissemination into the youth community who attends SL, as well as taking in account the strongly visual game culture of many of its users, Otaner Merlin has built an 11-floor 'space station' as a laboratory for the study of physics and interactive tools working according to different physical laws. Partnerships and twinning are important to spread the dissemination of science and the exchange of knowledge.

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2011 Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education

An example of alternative physics simulation at Second Life Physics Lab

Conclusion The environment, avatar psychology and the operational possibilities, its intrinsic essence of permanent creative laboratory, make Second Life an ideal place to carry out projects for education and popularization. The activities here described have confirmed these potentialities and are practical successful examples. All the projects presented are in progress and expanding, going on through 2012. These iniziative make concrete the mission of Second Physics, of popularizing science and integrating the communities: the residents, who participate to an event, often come back again, join the group, start a cooperation. This is true also for the groups, both those that work with us, like Immersiva.2life or SL Crazy Press, and the twinned groups, like SL Physics, that expands the number of residents that it is possible to reach.

References [1] Talete Flanagan, Giovanna Delphin, Marjorie Fargis, Calliope Lexington, Art, Mathematics and Physics in second Life. Paper presented at the APLIMAT Conference, Bratislava, 2010. [2] [3] Talete Flanagan, Giovanna Delphin, Marjorie Fargis, Calliope Lexington, When Art Meets Science in second Life. Paper presented at the APLIMAT Conference, Bratislava, 2011. [4] Streaming at Refer to this address also for the archive of past events. [5] The reportages from the Café della Scienza are at:

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