Project Time Line

June 2011: Assembled core team and established a formal project under New Stories, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Hired Britt Conn as Managing Director. Office space in the Bayview Cash Store donated by Fine Balancing Imaging Studio.

July 2011: The Seattle Center Foundation invited us to host a show for six months as an integral part of the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

September 2011: Assembled experienced pro bono operational team: Rick Ingrasci, M.D., M.P.H., Project Director; Lynnaea Lumbard, President of New Stories; Doug Kelly, Attorney at Law; Chris Thorsen, Executive Development Consultant and Business Development Advisor; Charles Terry, Philanthropic Consultant; Tom Buxton, Financial Advisor; Vito Zingarelli, Producing Director for theaters across North America; and Jerry Millhon, Executive Director of the Whidbey Institute.

October 2011: Accomplished phase 1 of the fundraising plan: raised $60,000 in donations.

November 2011: Phase 2 of the fundraising plan complete: raised $70,000 in loans, and purchased the GeoDome. Assembled a local WGP production team.

December 2011: Raised an additional $20,000 in donations for a total of $150,000 for 2011.  Received the GeoDome and software. GeoDome developer, David McConville provided training in using the software at the Whidbey Institute, the “home of the GeoDome.”

January 2012: Hired Creative and Technical Director, Joe Menth. Assembled national production team including co-founder of Elumenati, Director of Noospheric Research, David McConville; Production Director Toshi Hoo; Producer Vito Zingarelli; sound and image designer, Michelle Grenier; and display and light projection artist, Lynn Augstein.

January 2012: Secured 1,500 square feet of prime space at the Seattle Center rent free with permission to charge for the show.

February 2012: The WGP production team premiered its first recorded show for the Thriving Communities Conference  at the Whidbey Institute on February 2. Produced and directed by Stephan Schwartz. Raised $20,000 to cover production and operations through February.

March 2012: Production team fully assembled and in full production mode on Earth Portal show. Creative team assembled to design the Earth Portal exhibit space at the Seattle Center. Email fundraising campaign kicked off to cover production costs.

April 2012: Email fundraising campaign raised $25,000 in contributions to support final Earth Portal production. April 21 launch at the Seattle Center for the Next Fifty celebration. Doors open to the public and the show is a hit!

May 2012: Begin hosting schools, community groups, and special events at the Earth Portal. Feedback on the Earth Portal show continues to be outstanding. Hosted private reception and public event with Paul Stamets, nationally renown mycologist and Louie Schwartzberg, award-winning videographer called, “How Mushrooms and Nature’s Beauty Can Help Save the World.” Webcast receives over 1,500 views within days of its posting.

June 2012: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) educational development for GeoDome application begins in earnest. First “remote driving” session in the GeoDome with David McConville in North Carolina taking participants on a tour of the Universe in the GeoDome in Seattle. Earth Portal partners with Chris Jordan for an evening of Midway Island photography and Earth Portal viewings. WGP hosts STEM experts, scientists, and educators at the Earth Portal for the first of many education events.

July 2012: Justin Pacholec joins the Earth Portal team as a TIPS volunteer (Teens in Public Service). Justin and Marlene make an outstanding pair as they engage crowds outside the Earth Portal and drive crowds inside the exhibit. STEM/NGSS/GeoDome team grows to include 3 new key players: Scott Carley, Director of Green STEM Programs at College of Exploration; Dave Ketter, Sequim High School science teacher and Environmental and Sustainability Education Professional Development Cadre; and Joey Shapiro Key, Education Specialist at the Montana Space Grant Consortium.

The Next Phase: Where We’re Headed

The Role of Immersive Learning Environments in Science Education
Innovative Solutions for Teaching Next Generation Science Standards

According to international student tests (PISA, 2009), the United States is falling behind many other nations in the education of its children for life in the 21st century. But with the expected release for adoption of the comprehensive and innovative Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in the autumn of 2012, we have an opportunity to refocus and reboot our K-12 STEM educational system. This is our “sputnik moment” – and we can use the bold vision of the NGSS to identify and shape practical tools that will support the kinds of educational and workforce developments needed to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Whidbey GeoDome Project is exploring how new social, collaborative, and immersive learning environments could be one of the practical tools to “reboot” STEM education. In particular, we believe that immersive learning experiences – with their unique capacity to use visualizations of observational data, mental models and conceptual relationships of complex systems to enhance the telling of compelling stories – can jump-start journeys of discovery and reflection for educators and learners alike.

We are developing two kinds of programs – those that take place in the GeoDome entirely and those that extend that experience into the classroom and community.

The highly portable GeoDome with its hemispheric screen and casual seating provides an intimate setting for storytelling – especially stories about the world, the Universe around us, and the interconnectedness of all life. It is like sitting around the campfire with the stars above listening to a good story told well. It is a place where participants can go deeper.

We are collaborating with leading experts in the use of visualization and modeling and in the learning sciences to understand how to use newly-available computational power, data sets, and online tools to create both recorded and live programs for the GeoDome. These “in GeoDome” programs will span the scale of the cosmos – from quarks to quasars – in all its complexity and explore how the scientific community develops models, data, and explanations.