Friday, September 21, 2012

My First Attempt(s) at Gigapans

Over the summer I acquired at Gigapan EPIC 100 with the goal of using gigapans within my Earth Science classroom.  The idea of placing students at an outcrop or location, even though it may be hundreds of miles away, is intriguing.  Ideally, many of the gigapans used in the classroom would have a Minnesota focus, that way students would be able to visit locations in the state virtually.  Many times, individual rock samples cannot tell the complete story that the entire outcrop can, and that is one reason why gigapans are coming to my classroom.

I've put together a list of some gigapans that focus on different parts of Minnesota's geology and have shown these informally in the classroom at various times in the past.  So many of my students have been introduced to gigapans and some browse the gigapan website on their own time.  

Each fall, we take the entire 8th grade class (198 students this year) on a field investigation to three different locations in or near the Minnesota River Valley (you can read about last years trip here), with the goal of being able to make observations about how the valley formed.  This was an obvious place to start my gigpan experience, some of these went very well, but there were certainly lessons learned.

The first gigapan was shot just beneath the highway bridge over the Minnesota River near Blakeley.  We stop here to get an idea of how big the valley is and how little of the valley the river occupies.  To view the gigapan online, click here

The second gigapan was at the Rush River County Park, shot from a rocky point bar.  This was basically shot to allow the sun to rise a little higher in the sky to set up the next gigapan.  The gigapan can be found online here.

The third gigapan was the one that I wanted the most for the classroom, but it's also the one where the most mistakes were made.  First the batteries on the camera died, then the memory card of the camera got full, missing a picture or two before I realized it (of course I was using the 1 GB card, not the 16 GB card that I have).  The mistakes are correctable and I'm currently making time in my schedule to get back to the site to make a better gigapan.  

Obviously, you can see the missing picture, which threw the rest off slightly.  The site here is continually eroded by the Rush River and exposes at least three distinct glacial tills, the source of the rocky point bars.  The gigapan can be found here.

So the learned are:

1.  Use the bigger memory card.
2.  Don't forget about the batteries.
3.  Keep practicing.

If anyone has any ideas about how they are using gigapans in the classroom, I would love to listen!