Friday, April 15, 2011

The 3D Interactive Solar System

A couple of days ago a colleague posted a link to a website that offered a view of the Solar System. I was skeptical at first needless to say, thinking that it might not be a really educator friendly website. Boy was I surprised.

The site Solar System Scope(SSS) is a 3D interactive website that allows you to explore all there is in our solar system from the planets individually to Saturn's rings to the Constellations.

When you go to the site initially and just let the page load you will notice that the site seems to be moving on its own, changing views and showing different information on its own. The site is set up, so that it will seem to from what I gather, to demo each area of the websites option choices for viewing. Once you click on the site you are then able to interact with the Menus, planets and other objects on the screen.

Along the left side of the webpage there are three tabs that allow you to interact with the site in different ways. In the first tab you will find the Cursor Info Texts which define what each of the cursor identities are. You will also find the Hand icon that allows you to; of course, interact with items on the page. The second tab shows you the different views that you can see while using the page. These affect the broad views of the entire webpage unlike the Hand icon interacting with individual items. The view types are Heliocentric, Geocentric and Panoramatic. The third tab gives you the Setting information and Search features of the site. You can change the Planet and Moon, Stars and Constellations, Earth Observatory, Time and Reset settings from the tab. You can find a Planet or Moon, Star or Constellation or find a Specific Time in the Search features.

On the right side of the page you have a slide ruler that allows you to zoom in and out within the viewing area. Along the bottom of the page is the Time and Date Calendar. If you hover over either of the items you will see a clock or calendar for you to change settings. Then there is a Start, Fast Forward and Fast Rewind time buttons where you can see the solar system in action.

Lastly up in the top right hand corner of the screen you can change the Language, hide the interface button. Then you can use the Arrow button and/or the Space bar to change you out to the full screen mode and back.

The site looks great and the possibilities are limitless on how you can use it in your classroom. It would also be a great tool to use with your Interactive White Board to show the solar system on a larger screen where your students can come up and touch the board and move things around and make things happen. In just a few days that I have known about the site I have shared it with a number of teachers at the Elementary school level and all of them have really been excited to see it and use it.

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