2020 was… quite a year! We are incredibly thankful for the community of educators who have led the way for our children to continue learning, growing, and maintaining a sense of stability.
We began the year excited about launching BioDive after two and a half years of research, iterating, and piloting. We planned to officially launch BioDive in March while speaking at SXSW EDU, but well… due to the coronavirus, things changed. We had a much softer launch of BioDive at the end of April and, like many of our edtech colleagues, we offered BioDive for free through October due to the pandemic and in those 6 months we added over 30,000 new users!
Two of our co-founders both had TED talks go live this year! Jessica Ochoa Hendrix spoke about using virtual reality to help students see themselves as scientists in a talk that went live in February, and Mandë Holford spoke about using venom to find cures for human diseases in a talk that went up at the end of October.
We are THRILLED to announce a partnership with BrainPOP who will be hosting the first portion of BioDive on their incredibly popular site! It will be offered free with a discount available to all educators who would like to access to the entire experience.
Additionally, our VR in Education group crossed over 1000 members! We are nearing 1100 members who have continued meeting remotely each month and drawing in new members from across the globe who wouldn’t have had the opportunity to attend these meetings if they were still in person.
We began the year working on GeoForge, a collaborative virtual reality earth science experience for middle school students funded by the Institute of Educational Sciences. We had the opportunity to pilot it in 5 schools in 2020 and had a peer reviewed paper accepted. We also began working on WaterWays, an augmented reality science experience for elementary school students in grades 3-5 funded by the National Institute of Health. Our partnership with Hudson River Park, Wildlife Conservation Society, and The Mount Sinai Transdisciplinary Center on Early Environmental Exposures kicked off in September and we are really looking forward to continuing the work in the new year.
Although Team Killer Snails was sad to miss SXSW EDU and the National Science Teachers Association conference, we look forward to attending them in the future. However, we hugely enjoyed the online conferences we were able to join! We were fortunate to speak at two of the amazing Science is Cool conferences this year, and we helped organize and speak at the incredible iLRN 2020 conference!
On an extremely happy note, our team did grow to include two new rescue puppies- please meet Mabel who came from Puerto Rico through the Sato Project and Ruby who came from Tennessee through Pupstarz Rescue! Although we were very sad that the Made in NY Media Center closed down, we have new space at the Newlab in the Brooklyn Navy Yard which is dog friendly.
Thank you to all our friends and collaborators, both teachers and students, and all who have continued to make the world a better place through this incredibly challenging year.
Looking forward to seeing you all in 2021!