Cover Photo Image

SCIENCE ON A SPHERE AT JMU

Located in EnGeo 2207, Science On a Sphere (SOS) is a visualization system that uses networked projectors to display still and animated datasets onto the outside of a large suspended sphere. This upgraded system with expanded capability was moved to EnGeo 2207 (room capacity 36) from Memorial Hall in Summer 2021 and is now conveniently located near the Geospatial Suite for coordinated use. While SOS is often employed at JMU for science education, it is a spherical display system that is applicable to any discipline. Students and faculty from the Departments of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication; Art and Art History; and Education have completed projects with SOS. There are examples of original content creation in many disciplines. The ISNW is piloting a guide for students and faculty to create their own maps, and Dr. Kristen St. John created a video for faculty describing teaching with SOS. 

JMU was an early university site for SOS and is one of a few institutions to incorporate SOS as a pedagogical tool in university courses. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) developed SOS to increase the public’s understanding of Earth as a system and the role of humans in the ecosystem. SOS is one part of NOAA’s multi-faceted education program that brings the research NOAA conducts and the data that drives resource management decisions to students, teachers, and learners of all ages. With over 125 installations, Science On a Sphere enhances informal educational programs in science centers, museums, and universities internationally. JMU actively participates with NOAA's SOS Users Collaborative Network to maximize the effectiveness of the tool as an Earth system science education platform.  

FOR JMU

A brief training is available for faculty and staff interested in using SOS for official business: teaching, service, and/or scholarship, including student projects. Faculty and staff SOS users reserve the space in advance and self-host their classes or groups. Faculty and staff interested in completing the brief training can email stewardship@jmu.edu.

 

FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC

Occasionally, JMU will hold public activities for families, alumni, and/or prospective students. Please check back here for event announcements.

FOR PK-12 VISITORS

For Elementary Schools

The interactive water cycle activity, appropriate for third grade students, is led by an adjunct instructor from the Geography Program. Visits must be arranged in advance. A request form is provided at the end of this section. Please carefully read the information below prior to completing the form:

  • The maximum group size is 25 students.
  • The form allows requesters to enter three possible dates/times. Please note that reservations are subject to space and staff availability. The program is not available on federal holidays or JMU holidays.
  • The activity is 60 minutes in length.
  • There is no charge.
  • Requests must be submitted at least two weeks in advance.

To request a Third Grade SOS Activity, complete the REQUEST FORM. 

Also For Elementary Schools

A limited number of other activities led by an Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies (IDLS) faculty member are also available for elementary school students. A request form is provided at the end of this section. Please carefully read the information below prior to completing the form: 

  • The maximum group size is 36 people (including chaperones) 
  • Programs are offered on various weekdays based on the faculty member’s teaching schedule. The form allows requesters to enter three possible dates/times. Please note that reservations are subject to space and staff availability. Programs are not available on federal holidays or JMU holidays. 
  • Activities are 45-60 minutes in length. 
  • There is no charge. 
  • Requests must be submitted at least two weeks in advance. 

    Please note that the content of this activity is arranged between the visitors and the faculty host. JMU manages the space reservation only. 

To request an Elementary School SOS Activity, complete the REQUEST FORM.

For Middle Schools

A hurricane-themed activity appropriate for middle school students is led by an adjunct faculty member from the Geography Program. Visits must be arranged in advance. A request form is provided at the end of this section. Please carefully read the information below prior to completing the form:

  • The maximum group size is 36 people (including chaperones).
  • The form allows requesters to enter three possible dates/times. Please note that reservations are subject to space and staff availability. Activities are not available on federal holidays or JMU holidays.
  • The activity is 45 minutes in length.
  • There is no charge.
  • Requests must be submitted at least two weeks in advance.

To request a Middle School SOS Activity, complete the REQUEST FORM

FOR PK-12

Licensed teachers may teach their own lessons with SOS or allow their students to lead activities. This self-hosted option allows teachers to review and select in advance the material they would like to use from NOAA’s online dataset catalog, develop their class lessons, and use SOS at JMU. A JMU staff member will be present to run the technology. Visits must be arranged in advance. A request form is provided at the end of this section. Please carefully read the information below prior to completing the form:

  • The maximum group size is 36 people (including chaperones).
  • The form allows requesters to enter three possible dates/times. Please note that reservations are subject to space and staff availability. Activities are not available on federal holidays or JMU holidays.
  • There is no charge.
  • Requests must be submitted at least two weeks in advance.

To request a self-hosted SOS Activity, complete the REQUEST FORM.

Resources for Developing SOS Lessons for PK-12 Teachers

Licensed teachers may teach their own lessons with SOS or allow their students to lead activities. A JMU staff member will be present to run the technology.

The following resources may be helpful to teachers interested in teaching their own lessons with SOS.  

  1. NOAA’s online dataset catalog - allows teachers to review and select in advance the material they would like to use.
  2. JMU developed SOS lesson plans allow teachers to select SOS lessons developed by JMU faculty.
    1. Download the SOS Middle School Lesson
    2. Download the SOS High School Lesson
  3. The MY NASA DATA GLOBE website -  offers educational materials to be used by teachers and students in conjunction  SOS.  There are lessons ideas for specific grade levels:
    1. K-5
    2. 6-8
    3. 9-12

Back to Top