Sharks, alligators and jellyfish – oh my! (And they’re coming straight from the Tennessee Aquarium to a classroom near you.)
Originally launched at the Chattanooga Airport, the Nokia-built and EPB-powered technology that greets visitors with a crystal-clear 4K-display of the Tennessee Aquarium’s Alligator Bayou and Secret Reef has also been streaming into Red Bank Elementary and the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences – as well as five Opportunity Zone schools: East Lake Elementary, Calvin Donaldson, Woodmore Elementary, Dalewood Middle School and Brainerd High.
And soon, even more schools will have access, thanks to support from Mozilla and a partnership between The Enterprise Center, the Hamilton County Department of Education, the Public Education Foundation, EPB and, of course, the Aquarium.
As the project continues to grow, so do STEM opportunities for students across Hamilton County, in Lafayette, Louisiana and, now, in Austin, Texas. Mozilla recently announced $280,000 in gigabit grants, including $124,000 to next-generation educational applications that span state borders. One of the projects funded? This gig-powered “Classroom of the Future”
Mozilla believes the Internet is best as a free, open and accessible public resource — and gigabit technology can help the Web flourish as just that. The Gigabit Community Fund’s goal is to bring in new voices to shape the future of emerging gigabit technologies like AR, VR and 4K streaming, helping to unlock the next wave of innovation and openness online.
“We invested in the Classroom of the Future because it showcases how a strong community and collaborative atmosphere can develop an innovation ecosystem—this is such a fantastic project, and we’re especially excited to see it span to other gigabit cities,” said Katie Hendrix, Portfolio Manager for the Mozilla Foundation in Chattanooga.
In addition to elementary, middle and high school students in Hamilton County and Austin, Texas, visitors to the Lafayette Science Museum in Lafayette, LA will get a live look into the Tennessee Aquarium—as well as be able to explore the incredible 360-degree virtual aquarium already there. And while the alligators may be more familiar to our Louisiana and Texas friends, feeds of Jellies: Living Art, sharks and turtles from the Secret Reef and a freshwater exhibit will all captivate museumgoers and students alike.
Other projects funded in collaboration with Chattanooga include Cross-Community Kvasir-VR, a partnership with University of Louisiana-Lafayette that will bring VR solar energy experiences to several HCDE classrooms; a LOLA-enabled puppet theatre hosted between Kansas City, MO and Red Bank High School; Giga-Scapes, an interactive board game platform based in Eugene, OR; and the LOLA in Lafayette Pilot Program, connecting the Chattanooga Public Library with the Acadiana Center for the Arts for Make Music Day 2018.
The future is here, and it’s happening not just in the labs of big tech companies or research universities—it’s taking place out in the open, in public school classrooms and community centers. Students don’t have to wait to use the technology of tomorrow; in cities like Chattanooga, Lafayette and Austin, it’s already at their fingertips.