The first MUVE represents a pond ecosystem, based on Black's Nook, a freshwater pond in Cambridge, MA.
Students explore the pond and the surrounding area, even walking under the water, and see different
organisms in their natural habitats. Students use a micro-submarine to zoom in and see the microscopic
organisms in the pond. They can learn about the organisms they find in a field guide and can construct
a food web. Students collect water measurements (e.g., temperature, dissolved oxygen, phosphates,
nitrates, pH, temperature), observe the weather, and make observations by exploring the terrain and
developments in the neighborhood of the pond.
Students visit the pond over a number of virtual “days” – each day the pond and surrounding area look
different, people provide new information, and baseline data has altered. Students view the data over
time using tables and multi-dimensional graphs. Eventually, students make the surprising discovery that,
on a day in late summer, many fish in the pond have died. Students are challenged to figure out what
happened to the fish. They work in teams to collect and analyze data, gather information to solve the
mystery, and come to understand the complex causality of the pond ecosystem.