Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015 | 2:46 p.m.
Switch, the Las Vegas-based data company, invested $10 million in an exploration-based learning venture led by a former president of the National Geographic Society, according to a news release Wednesday. The funds will allow the company, Planet3, to launch software that will allow students to learn about Earth’s history and future through a game-based narrative.
The first product, slated for release late next year, will focus on middle school science.
Planet3’s overall goal is to use research data from NASA and other organizations to create a 3D “living laboratory,” a tool they are hoping will help better the performance of students. The company currently lists a collaboration with the Clark County School District.
Switch CEO Rob Roy will serve as Planet3’s chairman.
“By integrating curriculum into an immersive learning environment where students are challenged and excited to learn, we aim to deliver improved learning outcomes,” Roy said in the statement. “Our collective future will be determined by our efforts to vastly improve the education system. We expect Planet3 to make a significant contribution toward this goal."
An advocate for improving training in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, Roy has a history of supporting STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education projects. Switch, for instance, was fundamental in getting UNLV’s supercomputer online, donating space for the computer in its facilities.
With Earth’s environment quickly changing, Tim Kelly, Planet3’s CEO and the former president of the National Geographic Society, stressed the importance of ensuring students learn about the planet and encouraging them to develop skills necessary to innovate in the STEAM fields.
"Fortunately, we live in a moment in time when we can use astonishing digital tools and immersive technology to connect students and teachers to our changing planet,” Kelly said. “This exploration-based learning approach is what Planet3 will deliver.”