We’ve all thought of building a world from scratch. University of Chicago’s ExoTerra Imagination Lab is doing it

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CHICAGO — Picture this scenario: Lifespans are now approximately 115 years. And you have slept for 70 years on a starship with 1,999 travelers to get to a new world — a terraformed planet that will become humanity’s new home.

Welcome to the role-playing game that is ExoTerra Imagination Lab. The idea of Ada Palmer, a University of Chicago associate professor of history, ExoTerra is a way for students, faculty, alumni, gamers and sci-fi/fantasy fans around the globe to connect in pandemic times, Palmer said.

The year is 2412 and you’ve reached a new star system called Abaia, 64 1/2 light years from Earth, and you and other colony colleagues must design the new world from top to bottom — cities, laws and which animals to release into the new ecosystem. As the first wave of explorers, you and your fellow travelers must design a civilization that will welcome the 80,000 future colony members who left Earth 30 years ago and are in suspended animation.

The Earth you left behind in 2301 was still thriving, but its people were hard-pressed to fix the global flaws from humanity’s past. The ExoTerra mission’s goal is to build a better world for colonists.

“UChicago is creating this for the pandemic — to give students something that is exciting and community building,” Palmer said.

Another goal of the project: to be a space for exploring the important problems of our world and propose solutions to them in a way that’s not connected to current politics — from schools to incarceration. The project is in the tradition of “speculative resistance,” Palmer said, a kind of science fiction that focuses on other ways the world could be by using imagined places.

According to Ben Indeglia, Palmer’s lead lab assistant, 500 students and 100 volunteers signed up


Mixed Reality Studio in Gigabit Lab ready for LS launch

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Megan Terry has fun at the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Central Missouri’s Lee’s Summit campus.

Megan Terry has fun at the Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Central Missouri’s Lee’s Summit campus.

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A new lab at the University of Central Missouri’s Lee’s Summit campus will aim to give students and local entrepreneurs a chance to explore what’s possible in the fields of virtual and augmented reality.

The launch for the Mixed Reality Studio in its Gigabit Lab is set for Global Entrepreneurship Week, which starts Nov. 16. Coronavirus concerns could delay or limit the public opening.

Money for the new equipment came through the MoExcels initiative from the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development.

“This is all new. Before, there was no virtual reality or augmented reality equipment here,” said Joe Mullins, a consultant for the university’s Center for Workforce and Professional Education. “We are starting from scratch and trying to see where we can go with it.”

With virtual reality, once you put on the headset, everywhere you look is a created digital landscape. Augmented reality places digital objects within the real world and is perhaps most well-known through the app Pokémon GO.

Four workstations, each with its own headset, will access various platforms.

Mullins said students and faculty at the university will have free access to the lab, and professionals from the community will be able to buy time on the equipment. They’re still working out a fee structure.

The idea is for students to gain skills to create training programs and other materials using this equipment. That could mean creating a scenario where medical students work on a virtual patient or someone studying avionics could practice on a virtual engine before going to the real thing.

Mullins said he sees the lab as something that could benefit people across the metro area. Each piece of technology is


All Fortnite Season 4 Challenges: Tony Stark’s Hidden Lab, Doom’s Domain Vault, And More

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Season 4 of Fortnite: Chapter 2 is rolling along across consoles and PC. This season has introduced a ton of changes to Epic’s hit battle royale shooter, bringing the likes of Thor, Iron Man, Groot, She-Hulk, Storm, and other Marvel superheroes into the game to thwart an invasion by Galactus.

Of course, a new season also means new challenges, and there are already a ton for players to complete. Clearing these tasks will level up your Season 4 battle pass, which in turn will unlock exclusive Marvel-themed cosmetics. In addition to the standard weekly missions, Epic is rolling out a separate set of Wolverine challenges over the course of the season, which you’ll need to complete to unlock the Wolverine skin. There are also Awakening challenges that will unlock emotes and other cosmetic flourishes for Season 4’s other Marvel skins.

Although Season 4 is underway on most platforms, you cannot complete these challenges or play any of this season’s content on iOS devices. You also cannot re-install the game on iOS, as Apple has terminated Epic Games’ developer account. However, you can still play older content if you have the game on your phone.

If you need help completing this season’s missions, we’ve rounded up all of our Fortnite Season 4 maps and guides below. We’ll continue to update this list with additional maps and guides as Season 4 rolls on, so check back often for the latest tips.

Fortnite: Chapter 2, Season 4 Challenges

Wolverine Challenges

Wolverine challenges
Wolverine challenges
  • Investigate mysterious claw marks (3)
  • Find loading screen at Quinjet Patrol Sites
  • Find Wolverine’s Trophy in Dirty Docks
  • Launch off all Sentinel Hands without touhing the ground
  • Locate a Trask Transport Truck
  • Defeat Wolverine [rec: 4 players]
  • Damage with Wolverine’s Claws (200)
  • Regain health as Wolverine (100)

Investigate Mysterious Claw Marks


Meet our Education Lab staff

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Eva-Marie Ayala, editor

a sign on the side of a building: The exterior of the Dallas Morning News building on Commerce Street in downtown Dallas.

© Tom Fox/Staff Photographer/The Dallas Morning News/TNS
The exterior of the Dallas Morning News building on Commerce Street in downtown Dallas.

Eva-Marie is a veteran education journalist who’s covered schools across North Texas from Fort Worth to Frisco. Since joining The News in 2012, she’s focused on how inequities in schools impact Black and Latino children; what schools are doing to address mental health needs; and how state policy impacts classrooms. She’s a national board member of the Education Writers Association. Previously, she reported for her hometown paper the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Read more of her stories here.


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Corbett Smith, reporter

Corbett writes about education for The Dallas Morning News, which is fitting because he grew up in public schools. His mother, who taught him in sixth grade, held roles as a teacher, curriculum coordinator and counselor. His father, who was his high school principal, was a teacher, football coach, athletic director and a school administrator. Prior to writing about education, Corbett was an award-winning sportswriter for The News, where he covered high school sports. Read more of his stories here.

a person wearing glasses and a blue shirt: Eva-Marie Ayala

© Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News/The Dallas Morning News/TNS
Eva-Marie Ayala


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The News launches Education Lab to deepen coverage of our schools and explore solutions to persistent challenges

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Rarely has there been a more critical time to provide in-depth coverage of our schools.

A global health crisis and social justice movement have brought the deep inequities and challenges that have long plagued education to the forefront of community conversations.

Finding solutions to those issues that help lead to better outcomes for all children is critical to the future of North Texas.

That’s why The Dallas Morning News is launching the new Education Lab, a community-funded journalism initiative aimed at not only expanding our coverage of the most pressing issues in education but also deepening the conversations we have with students, parents and educators.

The Education Lab will build on The News’ longstanding commitment to quality journalism. We will report on pressing issues such as how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting students’ access to opportunities; how well schools are preparing tomorrow’s workforce; and how state funding challenges are affecting local classrooms.

We aim to regularly engage with our diverse community members through thoughtful discussions online — and, we hope, in person one day soon — to hear directly from you what challenges you face in navigating education for your children or yourself. Those conversations will help shape our coverage.

We’ll kick off those discussions Wednesday with a chat about what lessons have been learned as schools begin to reopen during the pandemic. You can also contribute by participating in this survey on how the coronavirus is affecting education in your life.

The Education Lab will investigate innovations across Texas and the nation to identify those that are showing promising results. No one solution will solve the complex problems facing our schools, but exploring such efforts will foster deeper conversations on what is showing progress as well as limitations.

The Education Lab is a community-funded initiative with support from The