Using ThingLink 360/VR to Explore Wetlands

-by Jen and Brian Cauthers

Wetland protection and restoration are key factors in preventing this threatened habitat from destruction.

As more communities and developments branch out into undeveloped lands, we encounter habitats that are often overlooked as important to the stability of our ecosystems.  Unfortunately, freshwater wetland habitats typically fall into this category, as they are often simply referred to as “swamps.”  Most people do not have a positive reaction when they hear the word “swamp.” Instead, they think stagnant stinky water.  In reality, freshwater wetlands are vital to the stability of our ecosystems because they provide breeding grounds for many creatures such as frogs and turtles.  They also provide a filtration system for our water as it percolates through the soils.  

The 360 image used for our ThingLink journey is a picture from a freshwater wetland in New York State. The image explores many components to a freshwater wetland using images, videos, and student engagement tools.  Students will be guided along to answer the question: “How can we protect and restore wetlands to their native state?”  Students will explore the soils of the wetlands, endangered species, native grasses, water testing parameters and methods used to restore wetlands.  Students will also create a shared google map plotting various wetland regions of New York State.  ThinkLink offers the ability to include links to key Google for Edu tools, as well as popular student engagement tools, such as Padlet to encourage voice and collaboration during the project.  

The ThingLink platform allows for engaging and clean packaging of an interactive unit to learn about freshwater wetlands.


About the Authors 

Jen and Brian Cathers are ThingLink Certified Educators and science teachers from New York. Our collaboration began when we met at the Mount Saint Mary’s Bootcamp. #TeamCauthers participated in the Bootcamp to prepare for a series of AR/VR workshops this fall.

If you missed them at the Google Summit in Manchester, CT, you can still catch AR/VR in the classroom moving from consumption to creation” during a pre-conference workshop at NYSCSTE in November and also at FETC in January. Follow Jen @cauthersj  and Brian @mahopacskiteam.

My interest in technology started with my MS in Instructional Technology from NYIT.   I am also a Google for Education Certified Trainer and an Apple Certified Teacher.  I have always loved integrated technology in my class starting with using probes for science experiments in the early years to 1:1 Chromebooks in the last few years.  Recently, I have found a passion for virtual reality and augmented reality apps now that mobile devices have become so powerful and most students carry them daily.  I love VR and AR use with students because it takes them on journeys that are not normally possible especially within a 42 minute class period.  My main focus with technology integration is to use it for student creation rather than simply consumption of information.   

My interest in technology started at an early age growing up in a house with my father who had a computer science master’s degree.  When I began teaching, I set up my own network in my classroom with my apple laptop and helped my inner city students stay on the cutting edge as they were part of an engineering/technology house.  In later years, I began to incorporate more web-based applications for ease of use with students at home.  I recently became very involved in the applications of virtual reality and augmented reality apps in the classroom.  I began a virtual field trip website for our school district, piloting a 360/VR field trip group in my middle school.  


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ThingLink Certified Educators are a connected group of educators who are passionate about leveraging the power of ThingLink for teaching and learning. These talented educators work to explore, share, and teach others about great ways to use ThingLink in the Classroom.
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