Social Studies - Other Cultures

Elementary students in a small rural area of West Virginia broaden their cultural awareness when they compare, contrast and analyze lives in different parts of the world.

“Our continent of study in third grade is South America and this project offers us great opportunity to visit places without ever actually going.  Students can map out their own points of interest within Rio de Janeiro and never need a tour guide. Instead of teaching proper grammar from a worksheet, students are able to practice real life experiences through making posts about the pictures.”

-Elizabeth Lallathin, primary teacher

If you have access to the site, find more details here:

Science and New Technologies

This project is a segment of the new 7th grade "Science and New Technologies" course offered at Escola Parque Gávea in 2012. The course's main objective is to develop critical thinking about sustainable development, while building 21st century skills and digital literacy in the classroom. We aim for both student action and introspection by proposing activities that allow for a hands-on approach through cross media, while exploring the impact of technology (old and new) in the system's ecology.

If you have access to the site, find more details here:

The project was highlighted at the November newsletter 

Language Arts - Writing

The purpose of this project is to help students write descriptively through collaboration and discussion. Students will be looking at local areas and giving accurate descriptions that bridge the gap between writing and detailed, descriptive writing by looking at local environments. Students will be able to relate this to their own life through the content.

If you have access to the site, find more details here:

Terrenos Kelluwen en la ruralidad rural

Kelluwen is a project aimed to develop didactic experiences involving social web tools in schools under poverty in southern Chile. We are making pilots, twice a year, involving several schools from different cities in southern Chile. Some of these classrooms are running special instructional designs using GigaPan Edu equipment and site.

Profesora Johanna Valenzuela  y sus estudiantes de Séptimo Básico del Colegio Pumanque en el límite entre Puerto Montt y Alerce.

Estudiantes de Octavo Básico que se preparan para una foto de muestra cuando comienzan su experiencia de Fotografiando la Revolución Industrial - Escuela Particular Horizonte.

Profesor Claudio Villarroel y sus estudiantes de Octavo Básico de la Escuela Particular Horizonte (en las faldas del volcán Calbuco, entre Alerce y Colonia Río Sur).

Gigapan in Nicaragua

I'm Marielle Saums, a student at Carnegie Mellon University and a Project Leader for SIFE: Nicaragua. Our group spent ten days in the community of Rosa Grande, Nicaragua conducting education and art initiatives this past May. Our initiatives are developed with the help of Bridges to Community staff as well as recommendations from community members and leaders in Rosa Grande. Our specific accomplishments this year were conducting art classes with young students and computer workshops with teachers. We also helped build latrines, pro-respiratory stoves, and the beginnings of the new community library.

SIFE: Nicaragua seeks to foster community dialogue between Rosa Grande and Pittsburgh, and the opportunity to use Gigapan allowed us to map out the community in a way that is accessible to the public on a global scale. Understanding the layout of Rosa Grande is not only helpful for our own group members to plan future projects, but it also served to capture the community at a critical time of growth and transition.
Community members were quite interested and inquisitive about the Gigapan equipment. When I used the Gigapan to photograph the education buildings, the students were eager to appear in multiple shots! Parents and community leaders were also excited about being able to view the Gigapans online, as Rosa Grande recently acquired laptops and (limited) internet access through the European Union.

While the Gigapan equipment is quite easy to use, there were still unanticipated setbacks that hindered my ability to take more images. The lack of access to a steady electrical supply made it difficult to recharge the Gigapan scanner and digital camera. I also had to account for poor lighting conditions, as few homes can afford lighting, and prevent the stray farm animal from knocking over the tripod as I shot images. However, these inconveniences were an important reminder of the many resource limitations that rural communities face as they establish development projects.
People in Rosa Grande have experience with using visual methods to identify areas of social need. In addition to the SIFE: Nicaragua art workshops, local citizens have also collaborated with a group from the University of Virginia using PhotoVoice photography methods. If the Rosa Grande's internet accessibility improves, then the Gigapan website can be another method for crowd-sourcing solutions and providing informed perspectives about life in Rosa Grande. I also hope that the Gigapans will convey the commitment and passion evident in the many community-driven projects, from stoves to art classes. 
The images also try to provide an idea of what SIFE:Nicaragua experiences in Rosa Grande and how we are able to contribute to the community. We are always seeking potential partnerships in both Rosa Grande and Pittsburgh and you can learn more about our work at
The SIFE:Nicaragua Team

[Image 1: Group shot of SIFE: Nicaragua, our host Don Agusto, and other community members]

[Image 2: This shows me taking a Gigapan of the school and talking with students about the project.] 

Have you been sharing Gigapan with others?

Examples of activities we would like to track related to Gigapan:
(robot, websites, prints or otherwise)

using Gigapan with your students
showing it to teachers
engaging your community
training your colleagues
otherwise sharing / teaching Gigapan 

Stories need not be limited to actual hands-on experience with the robot. If you used a Gigapan print to teach a concept (or loaned one to a school) we want to learn about it. If you collaborated with other researchers via an online Gigapan image, or otherwise used Gigapan images online in education or community context, please let us know.

Thank you!

Gigapan in Antarctica

I am a first grade teacher on a scientific research team deployed at Palmer Station, Antarctica.  We are here studying a wingless fly called Belgica antarctica.   It is the southernmost, free-living insect in Antarctica and it's the largest animal that remains on land throughout the year.  As the team's educational outreach coordinator, I used Gigapan technology to connect students in my school district as well as nationally with scientific research taking place at the bottom of the world.  Antarctic Gigapan images can be found on my team's outreach blog at along with descriptive information and scavenger hunt challenges.  Gigapan gives (preschool-grade 12) students an opportunity to explore detailed images of the Antarctic environment, provoking thoughtful questions and higher levels of learning.

Correcting the Ghost People

A photograph captures a moment in time.  A GigaPan is often presented as capturing a single moment, but

as we know it captures many disconnected moments, and things happen between those moments.

One of the most distracting things is when people move between frames.  Often there will be a reasonably complete image of a person in the space where two or four images meet.  If the person has moved the Stitch program tries to blend the different views into one view.  Sometimes this is an entertaining effect, but mostly it is simply distracting.

The most frustrating are the images where there is a good image of a person on one of the pictures, but it is being obscured by another image.  Wouldn't it be great if you could just make the 'extra' images go away?  Read on for a simple way to fix (some) of these GigaPans.

The simple way to make the Stitch program ignore something is to take it away.  So the essence of this technique is to simply delete the parts of the person which are confusing the stitcher.  But normally if you erase part of a JPG image you get a white, or black, area in the picture - which just messes up your image more.

So the trick is to create a transparent layer in your image, and then save the image in a format other than JPEG, like the PNG format, which supports transparency.

Here is a sample image.  There is a certain charm to some of these distortions, but perhaps a more realistic depiction is desired...

First look at the images in the  'Select Images' tab.  If you hold your mouse over an image it reveals the image name.

You want to identify the images which overlap to include your subject.

Then open these images.  I am going to use The Gimp program in this example.  The Gimp is an open source image editing program.  It runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux, and because it is open source everyone can download it for free.

So once you have the files open look for the best images of your subject.  In this case I we are lucky (well, we are lucky because  I selected this example in order to maximize for luck :-)  We have a clear view of the woman in one shot.

The image below this includes an unfortunate movement, and an overlap of the subject.

We add a transparent layer by going to Layer->Transparency->Add Alpha Channel

Then use one of the select tools to select
the area which we want to get rid of.

The lasso tool is likely your best bet, but depending on the details in the subject the Rectangle Select may be fine.

Once you have selected the area you want to get rid of go to Edit->Clear.  

The area you selected is replaced with a light and dark grey checkerboard pattern as a marker that this is now transparent.

Save the image in PNG format by File->Save As, and then select 'PNG' format.  There is a dialogue box, but for now accept the defaults and save the image.

I use the original image name, in this case 'IMG_3843', but the extension is changed to PNG.  This means that you have two copies of the image - the original (most likely) JPG, and the new image.

Repeat this process for each image which has a bad view of your subject.

1. Layer->Transparency->Add Alpha Channel
2. Select the area to remove.
3. Edit->Clear  Make sure you get the checkerboard pattern.  If you get an empty white area it means you didn't do step 1.
4. File->Save As and change the extension to PNG

Now back to the Stitch program!  Select Add Images and add all of the images with a png extension.  This is easier if you click the 'date modified' column so that the newest images are shown first - since you just edited the png files they will appear first.

Finally, remove the original JPG files which are now repeated by the PNG's.  You will get images with black holes in them - but that is okay.  The Stitch program knows that these are areas which are transparent, so it will not use the information from the transparent area during the blending process.

So save and stitch the panorama, and you should have a much improved image!

There are still some artifacts in the stitched version of my example, but at least it doesn't look like a Picasso painting.

(not that there is anything wrong with Picasso!)

Happy stitching, and if you have questions, or a better way to do this, please let me know!

GigaPan: Democratizing information and bolstering bioliteracy

Fine Fellow Alex Smith wrote a fantastic article about his experience with gigapan for the quarterly newsletter of the International Barcode for Live Project.
Alex concludes, "There are many parallels between the GigaPan and DNA barcoding as complementary forces for democratizing information and bolstering bioliteracy. Both are publicly accessible, both will be annotated through time by a community of experts and non-experts alike and both exist as a synthetic connection from the digital to the natural world.
One key to our capacity to understand the changes caused by the increasing pressures of the urbanization and degradation of natural environments will be ongoing monitoring through time. If such monitoring is democratized and publically available as DNA barcodes and GigaPans, then a marginalized environment may become more valued by the human population."

 Check out the full article at