Caledonia Heron Speaks at the NPC on NASA’s Work in Second Life

On Friday, June 24, Ms. Caledonia Heron, the information architect for NASA’s Education Resource Center in Second Life, was the featured speaker at the Nonprofit Commons for our weekly meetup.  Caledonia gave us a report on how NASA is using Second Life in a variety of ways. 

Among the key points Caledonia mentioned:

  • Caledonia Heron at NPC june 24 2011NASA is not new to virtual worlds. They have been in Second Life since 2006 and established a dedicated Education island in 2008.
  • NASA has a significant investment in STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math education.) This is part of NASA’s mission to improve education for students and citizen scientists, to provide STEM career paths for upcoming students and a pipeline to NASA employment.
  • In Second Life,the NASA eEducation island (teleport link) is a place for the agency to represent their resources from the NASA Education Portfolio. Their island is setup to represent NASA’s work on earth, in orbit and in exploration. 
  • On their island, NASA supports various uses of the virtual space, including
    • 3D representations of actual NASA vehicles and facilities, such as robotic rovers
    • live interactive events like webcasts of shuttle launches and talks with experts
    • interactive exhibits on various scientific subjects such as a raindrop you can ride through the water cycle and data about the earth collected by NASA satellites
  • The SL Education Resource Center is a place to find out about NASA Education Resources. The ERC is staffed by in-world NASA educator Elaine Lapka or Narya Revestel in Second Life. You can contact Elaine for:
    • K-12 standards-based curriculum, Student and teacher programs
    • Demonstrations: Electronic teaching resources
    • Copies: Over 100 video programs
    • Training: Inservice and preservice workshops

Clearly NASA has thought long and hard about how to best use virtual environments like Second Life to best accomplish their mission, as the world’s premiere space exploration agency.  This is a great example of what can be done by governmental institutions using virtual technologies.

Thanks to Caledonia Heron for talking with the nonprofit community about what NASA is up to.

A slightly edited chatlog follows after the jump…



NASA Education Center


Nonprofit Commons Meeting

June 24, 2011

Talk with Caledonia Heron, Information Architect, NASA Education Resource Center in Second Life


[08:48] Rik Riel: Caledonia can you come on down?

[08:49] Buffy Beale: claps for Caledonia!

[08:49] Rik Riel: Many of your know Caledonia Heron already I think

[08:49] Rik Riel: She is the Caledonia Heron, an information architect with the NASA Learning Technologies program.

[08:49] Caledonia Heron: Hi, and Good Morning!

[08:49] Gentle Heron: YAY Cousin Caledonia!!!!

[08:49] Caledonia Heron: lol, hey cousin πŸ™‚

[08:49] Glitteractica Cookie: w00t!

[08:50] Rik Riel: Learning Technologies is an education incubator for instructional technologies and the team manages NASA eEducation Island.

[08:50] Tuty Inkpen: Welcome, Caledonia! Yeah!

[08:50] Buffy Beale: Welcome Caledonia

[08:50] Caledonia Heron: thank you – what a great group πŸ™‚

[08:50] Caledonia Heron: I like it here

[08:50] Rik Riel: NASA eEd recently established a staffed Education Resource Center in the main building on the island. The ERC provides educational support for teaching about NASA content in the classroom or after-school. Ms. Heron will speak about the ERC and the activities and events available at the NASA island.

[08:50] Rik Riel: let’s all welcome Caledonia to the NPC (again)

[08:50] Caledonia Heron: Thanks for coming to this discussion about NASA eEducation island at NonProfit Commons.

[08:51] Caledonia Heron: As Rik mentioned My name is Caledonia Heron and I work for the NASA Learning Technologies project.

[08:51] page Putzo: good to see you!

[08:51] Caledonia Heron: you too page πŸ™‚

[08:51] Caledonia Heron: LT is an education technology incubator focused on new technologies for STEM instruction using NASA’s research and missions.

[08:51] Tuty Inkpen: my kids love the NASA site and videos

[08:51] Glitteractica Cookie: What is the twitter handle of NASA learning tech? I want to tweet this

[08:51] Sarvana Haalan: Thanks Brena

[08:51] Caledonia Heron: Salamanca, my coworker is here today also

[08:52] Caledonia Heron: can you give a shoutout?

[08:52] Salamanca Congrejo: Howdy eeryone

[08:52] Caledonia Heron: also the twitter handle?

[08:52] Caledonia Heron: juggling πŸ™‚

[08:52] Salamanca Congrejo: @NASALTP

[08:52] Robezz: hello

[08:52] Buffy Beale: hi there Salamanca

[08:52] Salamanca Congrejo: hiya

[08:52] Caledonia Heron: Feel free to ask questions at any time. Rik, if you could help me catch them in text that would be great. Sometimes I’m typing like crazy and can miss text going by.

[08:53] Salamanca Congrejo: call me Sal πŸ˜‰

[08:53] Rik Riel: will do

[08:53] Caledonia Heron: a little background…

[08:53] Caledonia Heron: NASA has been in Second Life since 2006 and got a dedicated Education island in 2008. NASA has a significant investment in STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math education.)

[08:53] Caledonia Heron: This is part of NASA’s positive mission to improve education for students and citizen scientists. NASA invests in education to provide STEM career paths for upcoming students and a pipeline to NASA employment.

[08:54] Caledonia Heron: behind me are some slides of our island so you can get a sense of what it’sl ike before you visit

[08:54] Caledonia Heron: there’s an info kiosk to my right with a tourcard

[08:54] Caledonia Heron: The agency has dedicated time and capital to develop print, online and in person resources and activities. There are education assets for all learners, K-Grey. 

[08:55] Caledonia Heron: We want to encourage the youngest to the oldest to have an understanding of science and have the skills to contribute in those areas through their careers and/or private interests.

[08:55] Caledonia Heron: In SL, NASA eEducation island is a place for the agency to represent our resources from the NASA Education Portfolio.

[08:55] Caledonia Heron: You can find lots of RL resources online at the site.

[08:55] Caledonia Heron: Our island is setup to represent NASA’s work on earth, in orbit and in exploration. The land area has a number of space analog activities such as NEEMO, Antarctica and a rover yard.

[08:56] Caledonia Heron: To prepare for the challenge of exploring remote destinations in space, NASA conducts “analog” missions here on Earth, in remote locations that have physical similarities to extreme space environments.

[08:56] Caledonia Heron: You can find info at and…

[08:56] Caledonia Heron: You can search for specific teaching materials at

[08:57] Caledonia Heron: Re analogs: For example NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) is an underwater sea laboratory off the coast of Key Largo.

[08:57] Caledonia Heron: lol, yes Sal for sure!

[08:57] Caledonia Heron: We practice mission activities there as an analog to being in space β€šΓ„Γ¬ researchers are in a small, remote location and work underwater which can give a sense of weightlessness.

[08:57] Caledonia Heron: We have a cute little rover there named Scuttle.

[08:58] Caledonia Heron: You can visit our SL NEEMO on the west side of the island β€š check the tour card LM you can get from the information kiosk here on stage.

[08:58] Caledonia Heron: We hold underwater events when there are live research missions underway at NEEMO. Scuba gear optional. 

[08:58] Caledonia Heron: Our rover yard on the NE side of the island serves as an analog for the many robotic missions that the agency has in operation.

[08:58] Caledonia Heron: Here’s another example of one of our events : We hosted a group in SL for a live interactive webcast from the Black Rock Lava Flow in Arizona during last summerβ€š DRATS testing (Desert RATS β€š or Research and Technology Studies) where 2 SEV rovers went out in the field in simulated science mission.

[08:59] Caledonia Heron: We were able to watch a segment of the testing and interact with engineers using social media tools for Q&A.

[08:59] Buffy Beale: wow

[08:59] Caledonia Heron: You can get your own copy of the SEV when you click on the info kiosk, select the gifts button.

(SEV β€š Space Exploration Vehicle) Lots of acronyms at NASA!!! β€š

[08:59] Caledonia Heron: and more info….

[09:00] Rik Riel: (we’ll be posting these links later if you miss them)

[09:00] Buffy Beale: would be fun to have a rover wandering around the NPC

[09:00] Caledonia Heron: We also have several earth science interactives to learn about NASA’s earth observing work. You can ride a raindrop through the water cycle or view aggregated earth observing data in video at the Science on a Sphere.

[09:00] Gentle Heron: I thought that was your role as rover, Buffy.

[09:00] Caledonia Heron: and

[09:00] Buffy Beale: ha!

[09:00] Caledonia Heron: Our island sky is dedicated to orbital and exploration missions. You can learn visit the Apollo moon landing, the ISS, the Hubble and many others.

[09:01] Caledonia Heron: Check your tourcard for places and LMβ€šΓ„Γ΄s.

[09:01] Hydra Shaftoe: I want my own Titan rover. I’d name it Elvis, since we all know that Elvis went to live on Saturn

[09:01] Caledonia Heron: In addition to the in-situ learning environment we host a dedicated Education Resource Center in the Main Building of the island.

[09:01] Buffy Beale: I thought it was Mars Hydra

[09:01] Caledonia Heron: This is what Rik blogged about and how we met. πŸ™‚

[09:01] page Putzo: lol i thought he was dead

[09:01] Caledonia Heron: We worked with the NASA Core, the central repository for NASA ed materials, to place the most requested items from our Ed portfolio within the SL ERC.

[09:02] Buffy Beale: it’s so fascinating Caledonia, really shows the value of SL having NASA here

[09:02] Caledonia Heron: thanks Buffy πŸ™‚

[09:02] Tuty Inkpen: Can’t wait to show this to the kids. They love exploring with us in SL (family friendly spots only of course)

[09:02] Caledonia Heron: Sal wrote about the ERC on SLED, Rik came to visit and we met on the island… serendipitous πŸ™‚

[09:02] Caledonia Heron: CORE is the Central Operations of Resources for Educators.

[09:03] Rik Riel: yeah SL is good for serendipitousness

[09:03] Buffy Beale: and now full circle having you present to us Caledonia πŸ™‚

[09:03] Caledonia Heron: yep

[09:03] Caledonia Heron: We hosts events, webcasts and contests on the island. Visitors can take a self-guided tour or arrange for group tours. Please contact me if you’d like a group tour. We frequently host NASA scientists as guest speakers.

[09:03] Rik Riel: lol

[09:03] Caledonia Heron: We’ve had climate scientists, astrophysicists, a Nobel laureate, NASA administrators and many others give talks.

[09:03] Caledonia Heron: You can join the Welcome to NASA group to get notices of events and activities.

[09:03] Caledonia Heron: Weβ€šΓ„Γ΄ll be hosting a shuttle launch event in July. The first launch window for STS-135 is at 11:26 a.m. EDT on July 8 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

[09:03] Buffy Beale: do you livestream the launches?

[09:03] Buffy Beale: oh

[09:03] Buffy Beale: yay

[09:03] Caledonia Heron: yes, do come if you can

[09:04] Rik Riel: is taht the last one?

[09:04] Caledonia Heron: If you can’t join us in SL you can watch the launch at

[09:04] Caledonia Heron: yes

[09:04] Troy McLuhan: Avatrian made a life-size 3D model and simulation of the shuttle for the July 8 launch

[09:04] Rik Riel: aww that makes me so sad

[09:04] Mila (milakel): is colab being funded by nasa?

[09:04] Buffy Beale: I think this is the one my name goes up on

[09:04] Tuty Inkpen: Caledonia, does NASA do virtual field trips for schools, similar to what the National Parks are doing?

[09:04] page Putzo: cool

[09:04] Caledonia Heron: Some local cable companies provide a dedicated NASA channel. “Check your listings”

[09:04] Dali Waverider: Caledonia, do you have an SL gourp we can join to receive event announcements?

[09:04] Caledonia Heron: yes Welcome to NASA Dali

[09:04] Dali Waverider: Thanks

[09:05] Caledonia Heron: there are virtual field trips, I can pull up that info for you later

[09:05] Tuty Inkpen: awesome ty

[09:05] Caledonia Heron: We’ve recently added a service at our Educator Resource Center in the Main Building. We have an educator from the ERC at Space Center Houston on call to help you find NASA Ed resources.

[09:05] Caledonia Heron: im me video to follow up πŸ™‚

[09:05] page Putzo: a star is born;o)

[09:05] Caledonia Heron: The SL ERC is a place to find out about NASA Education Resources. In RL each NASA Center provides Education services and we’re proud to host the first staffed NASA ERC here in Second Life.

[09:06] Caledonia Heron: Our generous educator is Elaine Lapka and her av is Narya Revestel.

[09:06] Caledonia Heron: You can contact Elaine for:

K-12 standards-based curriculum, Student and teacher programs

Demonstrations: Electronic teaching resources

Copies: Over 100 video programs

Training: Inservice and preservice workshops

[09:06] Caledonia Heron: You can contact Narya Revestel in Second Life or email for personalized ERC assistance.

[09:06] Tuty Inkpen: So excited to find out about this. The other parents in the booster club will eat this up, and maybe I can teach them how to get into SL.

[09:07] Caledonia Heron: Elaine works with Space Center Houston …

[09:07] Tuty Inkpen: (We attend a virtual school 4th, 3rd and k grades)

[09:07] Caledonia Heron: Please send me a friend request if you’d like to stay in touch.

Also if you have a free group slot, join Welcome to NASA to receive info, updates and event notices.

We have a kiosk at SL8B at the SSI location. Please drop by.

[09:07] Caledonia Heron: Thank you so much for your time. It was a pleasure to bring this information to you today. Thanks. Again, Please IM me for further info.

[09:07] Tuty Inkpen: *applause* awesome

[09:07] Tuty Inkpen: we love nasa and learning

[09:07] Rik Riel: Caledonia, we’d love for the NASA Ed to put some of their resources in our Eco Commons sim, perhaps pointing people to your island and web assets.

[09:07] ChrisG Techsan: great information

[09:08] Zinnia Zauber: Thank you!

[09:08] Mimi Muircastle: fantastic information for all – thank you!

[09:08] Caledonia Heron: be glad to Rik πŸ™‚

[09:08] Buffy Beale: Cheering!!

[09:08] RedGoddess (talkwithmarie): Thank you!

[09:08] Tuty Inkpen: and the combo in SL is far beyond my expectations; ty again!

[09:08] Caledonia Heron: did I catch all the questions?

[09:08] Rik Riel: maybe a space rover or two?

[09:08] Caledonia Heron: it got pretty furious there on my screen πŸ™‚

[09:08] Rik Riel: I think so

[09:08] Caledonia Heron: sure thing, we love to rove πŸ™‚

[09:08] Devilana Nirvana: /me claps for the great presentation

[09:08] Caledonia Heron: thanks y’all πŸ™‚

[09:08] RedGoddess (talkwithmarie): yay!

[09:08] Rik Riel: we’ll post a summary of this to

[09:09] Rik Riel: thanks for taking the time t obe with us Caledonia

[09:09] Caledonia Heron: great! appreciate the shout out πŸ™‚

[09:09] Caledonia Heron: my pleasure, wonderful to see you all

[09:09] Rik Riel: personally I’m such a huge fan of NASA as an old space-geek

[09:09] Gentle Heron: Thank you Caledonia. NASA has great resources for educators, and the SL build is all around fun.

[09:09] Caledonia Heron: we heart geeks πŸ™‚

[09:09] Caledonia Heron: lol, we are geeks

[09:09] Buffy Beale: Yay!

[09:09] Rik Riel: feel free to come back again with future updates and announcements

[09:09] Mimi Muircastle: uber geeks:)

[09:09] Dancers Yao: thank you..great

[09:10] Caledonia Heron: thanks Rik!

[09:10] Rik Riel: and I’ll be in touch about bringing some NASA assets over to our Eco sim

[09:10] Tuty Inkpen: I’m a mom geek but still a geek. love astronomy too

[09:10] Tuty Inkpen: woot woot

[09:10] Caledonia Heron: perfect, look forward to it

Written by: rikomatic