ESRL's Hilary Peddicord demonstrates Science On a Sphere to students using a portable system set up at their middle school.
ESRL's Hilary Peddicord demonstrates Science On a Sphere to students using a portable system set up at their middle school. (CREDIT: David Oonk, CIRES)

Students treated to Science On a Sphere® demonstrations at school

4 April 2014

Students at a Boulder, Colorado middle school recently experienced some of the exciting science that is happening in their community and beyond. NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) brought a traveling Science On a Sphere (SOS) system to nearby Southern Hills Middle School, so that new SOS team members could be trained on its setup. Normally, the portable system is demonstrated only at large national science conferences. But during the week of March 17th, more than 500 students were treated to visualizations of plate tectonics, hurricanes, tsunami, ocean data, satellites, and more . . . in their school's auditorium.

"I'm not sure if the students knew quite how lucky they were," says Hilary Peddicord of ESRL's Technology Outreach Branch. "This was the first time in 12 years that the portable SOS has traveled to a school."

SOS uses computers and video projectors to display animated data onto the outside of a 6-foot sphere. It was invented by ESRL's Director Dr. Sandy MacDonald in 1995 when he came up with the idea as an outgrowth of other visualization projects that he was directing. Since that time, SOS has become an important part of informal educational programs in 108 museums, science centers, and universities in 16 countries. NOAA's global science is presented on SOS in new and exciting ways by providing engaging three-dimensional representations of our planet and others as if the viewer were looking at them from outer space.

"The students were absolutely mesmerized and engaged," says Peddicord. "I don't think we've ever answered so many questions about how scientists do their work or how the Earth ticks!"

For more information about Science On a Sphere®, visit: www.sos.noaa.gov