• Preston and Felipe
  • Diver
  • Lizard
  • artifact
  • Mountain

Sibinacocha Watershed Project

Imagine diving to the bottom of Laguna Sibinacocha, a large, remote lake at 16,000ft (4869m) in the Peruvian Andes, to explore this ecological treasure from the comfort of your living room. Imagine searching for new clues among ancient ruins or searching for new plants and animals on each expedition with a team of international scientists. Imagine connecting to the world of discovery like never before!

Partnership Objective

To create world-class immersive, educational experiences in virtual reality (VR) to engage youth and everyday citizens around the world in the wonders of discovery, the process of science, and environmental stewardship.

The Sibinacocha watershed is an extreme environment by any standard, yet it contains stunning natural beauty and a remarkable array of wildlife. Quick Facts:

  • Surrounded by 20,000 ft (6100 m) high, glaciated peaks.
  • In the headwaters of the Amazon River.
  • Over 47 species of birds have been documented, setting altitude records for many species.
  • Home to the world’s highest documented amphibian populations.
  • Carnivores including puma, fox, and rare pampas and Andean mountain cats stalk the mountains.

Since 2000, a multi-disciplinary, multinational team of investigators has been working to understand and protect this watershed and there is still much to do. Research Priorities Quick Facts:

  • Archeology – Underwater structures discovered during a diving expedition in 2015, and other archaeological discoveries around the lake indicate that Sibinacocha held ceremonial significance to the pre-Incan and Incan cultures.
  • Ecology – Understanding the impacts of climate change on the plants and animals there living at their altitude limits is a critical research goal. The watershed is also home to several Threatened and Endangered species, including Peruvian guemal deer, the elusive Andean mountain cat, and the Diademed sandpiper-plover. New discoveries are made on almost every expedition.
  • Limnology – This deep, 11 mile long lake is full of life, yet it has never received a biological survey – we plan to change that!
  • Climate Change – Studying the rapid deglaciation and effects of warming temperatures are teaching us how life adapts to this changing environment and what we can expect in the future.
  • Conservancy – Increasing threats from mining and melting glaciers in the area urge ecosystem protection to conserve its diversity of habitat and wildlife, its precious water source, and to preserve its cultural patrimony.

Current and past sponsors of the scientific research in the watershed include: Wildlife Conservation Society, University of Colorado; Appalachian State University; National Geographic Society; National Aeronautic and Space Administration; National Science Foundation; Patagonia; Edge Diving; and a number of private foundations.

We strive to create impactful EdTech experiences in VR that provide an unparalleled opportunity for students to explore an area unlike anywhere else in the world. This experience will:

  • spark wonder, inquiry, and self reflection
  • inspire learning and conversations in the classroom and beyond
  • convey the beauty of unobtainable environments
  • be accessible to all, especially underfunded institutions

Curricular topics relevant for US classrooms include archeology, ecology, geology, climate change.

Our partnership is addressing the need for more innovative STEM engagement tools for K-12 students. Our EdTech experience will empower scientifically literate citizens of tomorrow by connecting them with scientists in action, seeing their work, and collaborating on understanding their discoveries in alignment with classroom activities.

Exploring Sibinacocha’s environment in VR gives students the opportunity to experience a unique place first-hand. VR is on the forefront of educational development. With endless opportunities for providing full-sensory experiences and hands-on learning, VR inspires curiosity and creativity to gain a better understanding of the world around us. Reasons why Science Galaxy is excited to be a part of the VR EdTech revolution:

  • Learning without borders – VR eliminates environmental limitations and expands on classroom concepts through actual immersion in what is taught
  • Empowering kids to to be lifelong explorers – VR-enabled content is unparalleled in its ability to evoke emotional connection, resulting in kids being actively engaged and collaborating across the world
  • Joining a connected market place – current estimates project that the global EdTech market will reach $252 billion by 2020, with VR tools as main platform (TedCrunch, 2016).

To read more about the benefits of VR in education, click here.

Step I: Produce 360 VR movie experience of the Laguna Sibinacocha environment

  • Launch VR movie experience at community events, in classrooms, after school programming, etc.

Step II: Create a curriculum around the science of Laguna Sibinacocha, intended for lesson materials for grades 4 through 8, that culminates in:

  • Live-interviews with scientists in field
  • Solo or team tasks to help scientists analyze the landscape and site artifacts
  • Testing scientific concepts in field environment and mapping site e.g. with Google Earth tools)

Step III: Integrate VR with AR to make the experience interactive:

  • Integration of an educational gaming component allows students to develop problem solving skills and offers motivation to explore Laguna Sibinacocha in further detail

Step IV: Empowering citizen scientists in Sibinacocha and around the world

Step V: Successful VR prototypes expanded to other fields and research around the world

May 2017 – Fundraiser led by Preston to secure additional funds for retrieval of underwater artifacts

Summer 2017 – secure funds to develop VR platforms and curriculum development

August 2017 – Expedition

  • Recovery of submerged pottery and investigation of a new underwater site during a world-record high-altitude dive.
  • Inaugural operation of an OpenROV to gather 360 footage of underwater site for VR development
  • Yayamari Expedition & Survey – new exploration of a sacred mountain
  • December 2017 – Anticipated date for Innovation Grant submission for 2018 VR development
  • Spring/Summer 2018 – launch of 360 VR movie experience
  • Beyond 2018  – secure additional funds to expand VR platforms and support ongoing discoveries on site, in Sibinacocha
  • ruins
  • bird
  • camp
  • hiking on glacier