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These and other extreme events transform lives and landscapes…forever. Yet our understanding of them remains limited due to the vast geographic expanses involved and the complex interactions of land, air and sea. Only an eye in the sky can gather the data necessary to predict these events and mitigate ensuing social and climatological change.

To answer this challenge, the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science and the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science & Policy, in partnership with the National Geographic Society, have developed a unique program that centers on specialized aircraft equipped with sensors to collect critical atmospheric data. These versatile flying machines can be deployed at any time-from ships, jungles and urban centers around the globe.

Previously, only seasoned scientists could participate in such expeditions. But now, as part of the University of Miami’s larger Exploration Science initiative, our air-based program includes exciting educational opportunities. Through hands-on activities and cutting-edge technology, students and citizens can soar off alongside renowned researchers and truly make a difference. Built on proven educational models, including some targeting underserved populations, this hands-on aviation experience brings the STEAM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) to life for all ages.


Experience the Wonder of Flight  

Taking students to the skies

Through a dedicated collaboration with world record- setting pilot Captain Barrington Irving and his non- profit Experience Aviation, the University of Miami is erasing the walls between the classroom and the world. Already Irving has reached over a million students with his global aviation platform, rooted in a much-publicized solo flight around the world. Through his experiential presentations-conducted almost in real time -students “visit” more than 30 countries, building deeper understandings of the planet and those who inhabit it.

Irving also leads the ‘Build & Soar’ program, which allows high school students from underserved populations to build aircraft from the ground up, giving each student hands-on involvement in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) disciplines. Additionally, students experience history in the making as they support Irving’s bid for a second world record: first person to fly a light jet across all seven continents. On this flight he will carry University of Miami environmental observation equipment.

Working alongside the University of Miami and National Geographic, Irving will continue to pioneer innovative, experiential curricula that emphasize the importance of weather and climate. This endeavor focuses on expanding stewardship and leadership among a diverse population.


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Experience Aviation program details

Features a game-changing, interactive and portable learning environment

• Enables students to travel, explore and discover through a weekly web reality show

• Offers unique real-world and workforce-relevant learning adventures

• Empowers youth voice via mass-publicized student cyber-journalism

• Rooted in rigorous STEAM-focused curricula

• Supports teachers in engaging the leaders of tomorrow, through online professional development


Skimming the surface to conduct critical research

Coined the H.O.P. (Helicopter Observation Platform), this “Science from the Skies” program offers everyday citizens a chance to join University of Miami scientists— in person or remotely—on helicopter research missions to collect data and critically observe disaster zones, oceans and land masses.  As they hover above the waves, drop into remote rainforests, soar over disaster impact sites or monitor critical fishery zones, Citizen Scientists get a taste of adventure, excitement and the raw power of nature through hands-on investigations. They join pilot scientists and crews to assist in gathering data that contributes to our understanding of current extreme weather events and future climate change.


H.O.P. program details

• Allows Citizen Scientists to join scientific teams for helicopter research missions
• Features flying over water and landmasses to measure environmental effects such as greenhouse gases, among others
• Includes single- and multi-day expeditions to remote areas
• Feeds “virtual expeditions” back to school classrooms through satellite link
• Enables Citizen Scientists to capture content through real-time blogging

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Satellites, optical remote sensing, unmanned aircraft, and high frequency radars are powerful tools for understanding our environment. They monitor dynamic ocean current conditions, small shifts of the Earth’s surface brought on by earthquakes and volcanoes, and changes to vital ecosystems. Working alongside researchers from the University of Miami, Citizen Scientists can use their combined skills to analyze remotely-collected images and participate in expeditions to ground-truth information in remote locations–all as part of an effort to better prevent damage from natural and man-made hazards.


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‘Remote Sensing’ program details

• Integrate hi-tech remote sensing images to help map and develop a greater understanding of the marine and terrestrial environments

• Visit beach-based remote sensing stations that measure ocean surface currents, winds and waves

• Participate in field excursions in the Florida Everglades using Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS) as part of remote sensing calibration studies that estimate above- ground biomass and carbon stored in trees and vegetation

• Participate in web-based learning modules that enable students to explore and use data sets in near real time

• Provide professional development that supports teachers in engaging students in STEAM disciplines

Adventure awaits in your own classroom  

Opening new worlds for teachers and students

Remote real-time expeditions now extend well beyond the reach of the Citizen Scientist. Now the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science and the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, in partnership with National Geographic, is developing technology platforms that enable classrooms to join real-time virtual quests to locations around the world. Through interactive technology, satellite links and robust curricular programs, students are immersed in science like never before.

Virtual expedition details

• Fosters interaction with world-renowned scientists and explorers via Internet-based chats and blogs

• Teaches basic scientific techniques and the principles of fieldwork

• Allows students to make real discoveries, reinforced by rigorous companion curricula

• Builds computer skills through online expedition tracking activities

• Augments and reinforces classroom reading, bringing educational texts to life

• Expands awareness of different cultures, whether rural or urban, coastal or landlocked

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