National Geographic and NASA Collaborate on Exclusive Mars AR Activation for @natgeo Instagram

The excitement of NASA’s Perseverance rover touching down on Mars continues with National Geographic’s new augmented reality (AR) experience on the @natgeo Instagram account. In what is another historical moment, National Geographic is offering users one of the first opportunities to be the Perseverance rover through this brand-new Mars AR activation, which offers an immersive 360 look at the panorama from the robot’s point of view (and even lets you take a selfie with the rover!).

Through this new activation, Instagram users can expect to truly become one with the rover, seeing through its eyes, observing its first panorama, searching for ancient signs of life on the red planet, and operating its extremities.

To increase the accuracy of the immersive experience, National Geographic collaboratedwith NASA on the Mars AR activation, consulting scientists and engineers who worked to design and build the rover, including Roger Weins (SUPERCAM), Christina Diaz (PIXL), and Jim Bell (Mastcam-Z).…Read More

National Geographic offers up over 500 maps through Google Maps engine’s public data program

Google is launching an initiative to let organizations share their map data with the public, via Google’s Maps product and cloud-based infrastructure, and today partner National Geographic announced their participation in the project and shared some info via the official Google Maps blog. The partnership will mean that more than 500 reference and historic maps will now be available to browse as an additional layer on Google’s digital Maps engine. This will let National Geographic explore interactive models complete with annotations that should help the archives come to life more effectively, and really animate issues of environmental change or provide education on important events throughout history. At a very basic level, this also makes available to many what was once hidden away in archival storage, visible only to those few historians who sought it out…

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‘Thinkfinity’ completes MarcoPolo’s long journey

MarcoPolo, the free, standards-based curriculum web site for teachers, has had quite a colorful history. Created by the MCI WorldCom Foundation in the late 1990s in conjunction with leading content experts such as National Geographic and the Kennedy Center, it was in danger of folding after WorldCom’s accounting scandal and subsequent bankruptcy filing in 2002–then, remarkably, WorldCom’s creditors and board of directors committed $6 million to save the program. With Verizon’s purchase of WorldCom–then known as MCI Inc.–early last year, the site became the property of the Verizon Foundation. Now, MarcoPolo has merged with the Verizon Literacy Network to become a single digital learning platform called “Thinkfinity,” which Verizon defines as “endless possibilities for learning and infinite intelligence.” The new Thinkfinity contains more than 47,000 educational resources, such as lesson plans and interactive student activities, across seven academic disciplines. Offered in partnership with eight educational organizations, Thinkfinity is commercial free and accessible from any internet-connected computer at no cost. With the help of its partners, Verizon says, it is working to make this resource available on other platforms, too, to support learning in the 21st century.