Monday, November 25, 2013

A New Way of Seeing

I wanted to follow up on how computer science works together with different fields (in this case, earth science) to reshape our understanding of the world through the use of innovative technology that in turn leads to new ways of seeing, thinking, decision-making, and ultimately, acting.

We started off with Greg Asner's TED talk about how technology has changed how we can view the earth.



I then asked the students to reflect on this talk by identifying the science and engineering practices at work.

"Computer science can change our view of nature.  It found out that male lions hunt at night in deep forest instead of what we thought that they sit around for food.  One main thing is that we have lot of rainforest species problems, fire, drought, goldmining and deforestation.  But we have hope.  We can help this by obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information that is important to park managers so they can make some important decisions like where to use fire.  These are some things we can use computers for - to save nature."

"My reflection is that he uses practice 3:  planning and carrying out investigations.  He was carrying out investigations when he found out that male lions are not the lazy ones.  In fact, the male lions do a lot more hunting than female lions.  People thought that the female lions do all the work because they hunt in the day for prey.  He also uses practice 3 when he finds out all about new things and then tells the world about it.  For example, he found out that there can't be too many elephants because elephants push many trees down." 

"I think Greg used science practice number 4 - analyzing and interpreting data.  He used this when he picked up data with his satellite.  The way he interpreted that data is by showing different colors as red is a lot of carbon and blue is the least.  Also, he showed every tree in the savanna in Africa and after showing it, again he analyzed which trees were being pushed down by elephants."

"Technology can change many things.  We have the CAO that can do many things.  One question is "how much carbonstock are we losing?"  The CAO allows us to resee what the canopy animals see.  It also allows us to see where the carbon is.  Goldminers are affecting carbon too.  All of this is analyzing and interpreting data."




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