Nearby Nature gigablitz, June 20-26, 2012

The challenge: Gigapixel imaging can reveal a surprising range of animal and plant species in the ordinary and sometimes extraordinary settings in which we live, learn, and work. Your challenge is to capture panoramas of Nearby Nature and share them with your peers at for further exploration. We hope that shared panoramas and snapshotting will help the GigaPan community more deeply explore, document, and celebrate the diversity of life forms in their local habitats.

Gigablitz timing: The event will take place over a 7-day period – a gigablitz – that aligns with the June solstice. Please capture and upload your images to the website between 6am, June 20 and 11pm, June 26 (your local time).

Juried selections:    Panoramas that meet the criteria below are eligible for inclusion in the Nearby Nature collection. The best panoramas will be selected by a jury for publication in an issue of GigaPan Magazine dedicated to the Nearby Nature collection.  Selection criteria are as follows:


  • Biodiversity: the image is species rich.
  • Uniqueness: the image contains particularly interesting or unique species, or the image captures a sense of the resilience of life-forms in human-dominated settings.
  • Nearby Nature context: image habitat is part of, or very near, the everyday places that people inhabit.
  • Image quality: the image is of high quality and is visually captivating.


Subjects and locations: The gigablitz subject may be any “nearby” location in which you have a personal interest:  schoolyard garden, backyard habitat, balcony planter, village grove, nearby remnant woods, vacant lot meadow next door and others.  Panoramas with high species richness (the range of different species in a given area) that are part of everyday places are especially encouraged.  It is the process of making and sharing gigapans that will transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Here are 3 things to keep in mind when choosing a place:

  • The panorama should focus on organisms in a habitat near your home, school or place of work.
  • Any life-forms are acceptable, such as plants, insects, and other animals.
  • Rich, sharp detail will encourage snapshotters to help identify organisms in your panorama.  Thus, your gigapan unit should be positioned close to the subject habitat – within 100 feet (30 meters) away, and preferably much closer.  Up close mini-habitats in the near-macro range are welcome.

View examples from the June, 2011 collection of Nearby Nature finalists that might inspire your choice of gigablitz subject.

Submission information: You may submit as many panoramas as you wish.  Each panorama should be accompanied by the following:

  • A title that includes the location where the image was captured.
  • 3 required tags:
    • “nearbynature” = tag #1 (a single word)
    • “June” = tag #2
    • “2012” = tag #3
  • A brief statement  (less than 100 words) on your thoughts about the image. Please include your name. Your affiliation is optional. For example:
    • Why did you choose this subject?
    • What is its context?
    • Did you discover anything interesting while you made the image or examined it in detail?
  • Google Earth geolocation is encouraged but not required.

Snapshot titles and description: Once you upload your submission, we encourage you to snapshot all the organisms that you can.  Clear snapshot titles will help the jury to consider your submission.  For example, if you find a frog in your panorama, the following words should be shown in the snapshop title:  “nearbynature” (a single word) and “frog”.  If you wish to include more information, please do so in the snapshot description box.  Don’t worry about getting too specific – visiting snapshotters will help you identify the diversity of life in your panorama.  Your ability to correctly identify organisms is not a criteria for jury selection.

to learn more visit:


Gigapan in Nicaragua

I'm Marielle Saums, a student at Carnegie Mellon University and a Project Leader for SIFE: Nicaragua. Our group spent ten days in the community of Rosa Grande, Nicaragua conducting education and art initiatives this past May. Our initiatives are developed with the help of Bridges to Community staff as well as recommendations from community members and leaders in Rosa Grande. Our specific accomplishments this year were conducting art classes with young students and computer workshops with teachers. We also helped build latrines, pro-respiratory stoves, and the beginnings of the new community library.
SIFE: Nicaragua seeks to foster community dialogue between Rosa Grande and Pittsburgh, and the opportunity to use Gigapan allowed us to map out the community in a way that is accessible to the public on a global scale. Understanding the layout of Rosa Grande is not only helpful for our own group members to plan future projects, but it also served to capture the community at a critical time of growth and transition.
Community members were quite interested and inquisitive about the Gigapan equipment. When I used the Gigapan to photograph the education buildings, the students were eager to appear in multiple shots! Parents and community leaders were also excited about being able to view the Gigapans online, as Rosa Grande recently acquired laptops and (limited) internet access through the European Union.

While the Gigapan equipment is quite easy to use, there were still unanticipated setbacks that hindered my ability to take more images. The lack of access to a steady electrical supply made it difficult to recharge the Gigapan scanner and digital camera. I also had to account for poor lighting conditions, as few homes can afford lighting, and prevent the stray farm animal from knocking over the tripod as I shot images. However, these inconveniences were an important reminder of the many resource limitations that rural communities face as they establish development projects.
People in Rosa Grande have experience with using visual methods to identify areas of social need. In addition to the SIFE: Nicaragua art workshops, local citizens have also collaborated with a group from the University of Virginia using PhotoVoice photography methods. If the Rosa Grande's internet accessibility improves, then the Gigapan website can be another method for crowd-sourcing solutions and providing informed perspectives about life in Rosa Grande. I also hope that the Gigapans will convey the commitment and passion evident in the many community-driven projects, from stoves to art classes.
The images also try to provide an idea of what SIFE:Nicaragua experiences in Rosa Grande and how we are able to contribute to the community. We are always seeking potential partnerships in both Rosa Grande and Pittsburgh and you can learn more about our work at
The SIFE:Nicaragua Team

[Image 1: Group shot of SIFE: Nicaragua, our host Don Agusto, and other community members]

[Image 2: This shows me taking a Gigapan of the school and talking with students about the project.]

Harless CREATE Satellite Holds Arts and Bots Training

The June Harless Center held a weeklong summer camp June 4th -7th, 2012 for children entering 2nd-5th grade on Marshall University's campus.  Allen Perry, a Physics and Chemistry teacher from South Point High School (Ohio), lead the camp with the Harless staff assisting.  Allen participated in the roll out which involved 4 local schools this past school year. Children gained inspiration for their designs from a virtual tour on the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’s website and used the engineering design process to create their robots with the goal being to learn how to create and program a robot.


  • What do you want your robot to look like?
  • What do you want your robot to be able to do?


  • Research
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Choose the best one!


  • Draw a diagram
  • Make a list of materials you will need 


  • Follow your plan and create it!
  • Test it out!


  • Talk about what works, what doesn’t, and what could  work better!     
  • Modify your design to make it better
  • Test it out! 

On Thursday, a showcase of the student’s work was held and parents, friends and family were invited to attend.  Some of the robot designs included an alligator, truck, Sacajawea, wooly mammoth, and recycle bots. The children enjoyed the experience and the parents were impressed with the designs that their children made and the creativity that was used


Harless CREATE Satellite Has Year-End Celebration

The June Harless Center for Rural Educational Research and Development, College of Education at Marshall University, held a year-end celebration showcasing Harless CREATE Satellite projects on May 17, 2012 from 6-8 in the Memorial Student Center’s Don Morris Room.  

Featured projects included: the GigaPan Outreach Project, Arts and Bots, Hear Me, and Message From Me. In addition, a new WaterBot project was introduced.  GigaPan enables students to take GigaPan panoramic images of their communities and activities and share them with peers across the world. Arts and Bots is a customized robot designed to integrate technology, literature, and history through the use of art supplies, circuit boards, lights, motors and sensors. Hear Me seeks to amplify kids voices using media and technology to create a world where kids are heard, acknowledged and understood, thereby giving them the power to inspire change in their lives, communities and the world. WaterBot is a citizen scientist project that prototypes a low-cost, easy and mobile method to monitor water quality, empowering communities, educators and children to monitor their watershed systems.



The Harless CREATE Satellite grant, which was funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, provides rural Appalachian schools continuous and seamless access to technologies, educational resources and ideas generated at the CREATE Lab in Pittsburgh. In addition it enabled teachers to integrate cutting edge technology into existing curriculum.   

Schools showcasing projects are from the Marshall University Professional Development Partnership Schools and include the Early Education STEM Center, Huntington High, Kellogg, Guyandotte and Ceredo Elementary schools, Beverly Hills, Milton, Barboursville Middle schools, as well as Cherry River Elementary in Nicholas county, Beverly Elementary in Randolph county and South Point High School in Ohio.



Join CREATE Lab on May 23, 2012 for a Finch Robot demo

Dear Educators, 

Please join CREATE lab team on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 from 5pm-7pm.
The team will demo the newest visual programmer software for Finch.
If you already have a Finch, you can start playing by downloading the free software HERE.
If you want to learn more and get a chance to win 1 Finch robot, come to CMU on May 23. 
Tom Lauwers, developer of Finch and founder of birdbrain technologies, will be at the event with lots of finches for you to test.
The CREATE lab visual programmer for Finch takes the inspiration from the hummingbird. 
So if you are familiar with Arts & Bots kits, you will be easily attracted to the Finch. (see attached image) 
But If you are very new to the Arts & Bots, this is also a great opportunity for you to meet our pioneer teachers and get inspired on how to use Arts & Bots in the classroom. 
Carnegie Mellon University
Gates Building - room 8102
Directions HERE
May 23, 2012 5pm-7pm
Door Prize: 1 Finch Robot donated by birdbrain technologies.
Refreshment will be serve.
Please RSVP HERE by May 20th, 2012 
Looking forward to seeing you, 
Clara Phillips
CREATE Lab Community Outreach Coordinator
Carnegie Mellon University
Robotics Institute - NSH 4627
5000 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 

Volunteer Opportunity in Uganda!

Kyempapu is a grassroots non-profit organization that is committed to community development, environmental management, and poverty alleviation in Kirinda, Uganda and its surrounding communities. Kyempapu was founded in 2009 and works out of Kirinda, Kitanda sub-county, about 140 kilometers from Kampala. 

Kyempapu would like to welcome volunteers from all over the world.

Accommodation is free and you can apply here 
We work with schools, communities ,youth groups and women in the fields
of education, sports, health and social work so whoever is interested
should contact us.
Below are some of the pictures of our students.
Kindly contact me in case this information is not enough to bring it out clearly.

Kind regards,

Sylvia Namukasa

Sylvia was introduced to CREATE lab through one of our gigapan Dialogues teacherAlejandra Lorenzo-Chang, International Program Coordinator at the Waldorf School of Baltimore. Sylvia and her team is working to implement gigapan in the Uganda area and asked us to post this information to our blog. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me Clara Phillips or Sylvia

Mathias demonstrating  the Gigapan to some KYEMPAPU volunteers.



Arts and Bots-Robotics in Pre-K!

The Marshall University Early Education STEM Center is one of the Professional Development Schools piloting the Arts and Bots project.  The project, originally started for middle school girls, has expanded to include both genders as well as other ages.  This is the first time the project has been used in elementary grades as well as pre-k. Many thanks to graduate assistant Lee-Dorah Wokpara for taking on this task and being creative and flexible with the curriculum. Children were encouraged to make a plan and draw a design before creating their robot.  We can't wait to see what the children come up with! 

Harless CREATE Satellite Holds Arts and Bots Training

Teachers from Huntington High School, Ceredo Elementary, South Point High School and the MU Early Education STEM Center took part in a 2-day training on arts and bots on February 17th and 18th on Marshall's campus.  The 8 teachers agreed to pilot the project and integrate it into existing classroom curriculum and will be using it in a variety of subjects including engineering, physics, chemistry, science and math.  Jenn Cross from CMU's CREATE Lab was on hand to help train the teachers on equipment use while the Harless CREATE Satellite team assisted with curriculum. The project will expand to include additional schools and teachers in the fall and a summer training is planned.   We look forward to seeing what the teachers and students come up with!

Ellis Students Gigapan Places of Worship

Ellis students have been Gigapanning different places of worship. Here you see two students pretty well soaked by the rain at the Hindu Jain Temple in Monroeville, PA.
We were treated to a nice tour, but we were not allowed to photograph inside. However, the outside of the temple is also quite beautiful.

Posted by Karen Kaighin, the instructor of students at the Ellis School.
The students are Valiha (with her coat on her head) and Annie.

Connecting Somali students from Pittsburgh to Nijmegen, Netherlands

Journey To A Notherland is a project that connects students in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with students in Nijmegen, Netherlands. We exchange ideas, artwork and creativity with one another. Although the two groups of students live across the world, many of the students come from very similar backgrounds. We talk about community, food, clothing, and music as the main sources of our work. The students in the Pittsburgh group come from various backgrounds: Some are 100% Pittsburgh, and have lived here their entire life. Others have moved from other places. Many of our students come from Africa, with a large population of Somali refugees now living in Pittsburgh. The parallel group of students in Nijmegen consist primarily of Somali refugee  and 1st generation students now living in the Netherlands. To learn more, visit

This is an ongoing project between Nijmegen and Pittsburgh. We have recently received some exciting letters from our pen-pals in the Netherlands. For now, we wish to share some of the activities we have enjoyed together thus far! 

The Pittsburgh group decided to take photos outside of Arsenal Middle School, at the beautiful park behind it. We took two trial photos. Unfortunately, I was having trouble setting up the automatic button shooter, so I had to take each photo manually. This meant I could not join our students in jumping into multiple frames of the photo.

This photo, as you can tell is somewhat inside out, but it has a cool effect. It is taken at Arsenal Park, showing our students playing in the Autumn park before Sunset!,hidetitle/iframe/flash.html

This was our Pittsburgh student's first try at the GigaPan. After selecting a scene and setting up the height and width that would be the GigaPan, the students jumped into frames as I tried to direct them. A cool lesson we learned from this activity was that some time accidents help you discover something new, or make something beautiful. In these photos, we are collaged over each other and blending into one another. In the second GigaPan, the finished product has the sky up top and below the ground. What does having the sky above you and below you make you think of? For one, it reminds us of our relation to the sun, and that our friends in the Netherlands are in a different timezone 6 hours ahead, where the sun may have gone down just that much. It also makes us think about the way we are constantly moving, from classroom to classroom, from block to block, or the way we have moved from country to country and are now standing on a new ground.