Cordilleran Section - 97th Annual Meeting, and Pacific Section, American Association of Petroleum Geologists (April 9-11, 2001)

Paper No. 0
Presentation Time: 10:10 AM


NOVAK, Gary A., Geological Sciences, California State Univ at Los Angeles, 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90032,

Recent advances in programming languages for the Web (such as server-side CGI scripts, Java, and JavaScript) and plug-ins for browsers (such as Flash and Shockwave) now make possible the development of interactive exercises that can be widely accessed via the Internet. We have constructed, tested, and here review five exercises for learning and teaching geology at the introductory college and high school levels. Topics for these activities include: locating earthquakes, computing radiometric ages of rocks, determining radiocarbon ages, measuring river discharge, and predicting river flooding frequency and magnitude. Each activity requires the student to make careful observations and measurements, do simple calculations, and answer questions as they progress through the exercise. To provide instructors with a permanent record, a personalized and printable "Certificate of Completion" is awarded to each student at the satisfactory completion of each activity. This “virtual courseware” is being widely used. During Fall of 2000 these exercises have been successfully completed by approximately 75,000 college and high school students from over 400 colleges and high-schools. Comments from instructor and student users are positive as indicated by a typical one from a high school earth science teacher: “Thanks, today was great. The kids love it and they learn a lot! The best part is that it forces them to make careful measurements! Also it allows them to practice from home.” Formal assessment of the Virtual Earthquake activity has also been positive with instructors indicating that more such on-line activities are wanted because they enhance the teaching and learning of earth science. The development process is iterative: involving cycles of design, programming, testing, implementation, user response analysis, and revision. In response to instructor feedback we continue to fine-tune these exercises to better meet their needs. We are developing additional activities about plate tectonics, global warming, biodiversity, ozone depletion, energy use and resources, and air and water pollution.