Cross-border educational initiative launched in Japan. Meanwhile on Saturn…

Giving high-school students the opportunity to experience the fun and the challenge of working in remote, multicultural teams. That’s the objective of an international collaboration between Alma College in Michigan (USA), Omi Brotherhood High School in Shiga (Japan) and SkypeRead.


Alma College has won a $5 million grant from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation for improving education within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). As part of this, the College is running a four-week summer camp for high-school students called the Cooperative Research Experience.

Working with Martin Stack, an Alma College alumnus who teaches at the University of Shiga Prefecture, SkypeRead will add an international dimension by linking the American students at the camp to Japanese students at Omi Brotherhood High School, 13 time zones away.

In the first phase of the project, as a team-building and communication exercise, each group will do a cross-border read-through of the science-fiction movie “Europa Report”. In the second phase, each group will formulate a question related to the movie, and then devise ways of working together remotely. A possible question could be something like “What, in theory, might life on Europa look like?”


We launched the project yesterday with a presentation to students at Omi Brotherhood High School. Moments before we started, Martin and I changed our presentation to include some exciting ‘breaking news’ from the Cassini programme, an international space mission. Cassini has found evidence of hydrothermal activity on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, opening up the possibility of it being an environment suitable for living organisms…

We’d like to say a very big thank you to everyone at Omi Brotherhood High School for the wonderful welcome they gave us yesterday.

Published by Graham Jones

Astrophysicist and science communicator