2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 25
Presentation Time: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM


GUERTIN, Laura A., Earth Science, Penn State Univ. Delaware County, 25 Yearsley Mill Road, Media, PA 19063, uxg3@psu.edu

Many geoscience students do not receive the opportunity to use technological tools during field experiences until they enroll in upper-division courses in their departments or attend field camp. Introductory-level geoscience courses are typically “show and tell” with demonstrations of pieces of equipment in the field. However, handheld technology, such as Palm Pilot computers, can be successfully integrated with introductory-level field experiences as a data collection tool and handheld reference guide.

Palm Pilots offer each student the opportunity to become actively involved in the field experience. Forms can be created and tailored to a specific outdoor exercise and placed on the Palms for students to collect data. Instructors can create eBooks with instructional materials and reference guides for the students to correspond with the project objective. Instructional videos can be created and placed on the Palms for students to demonstrate field techniques and procedures. With the prices dropping and discounts for bulk purchases available, Palm Pilots are now accessible to departments.

For two years the Penn State Delaware County campus has integrated handheld technology in the field experiences corresponding to introductory-level geoscience courses. For example, the introductory oceanography students use the handhelds to collect data on changes in beach profile elevations at the shore. The physical geology students use the handhelds for a tombstone weathering investigation and rock identification project. All of these projects have eBooks and instructional videos that describe the project and act as reference material, such as the rock identification eBook and video on how to begin measuring a beach profile.

Students respond very positively to using the handheld technology. In addition to giving students a valuable introduction to see how technology can be used in the field, the experience gives non-science majors a chance to see an application of an everyday technological tool in a nontraditional setting. End-of-semester course evaluations are filled with student suggestions of additional field experiences and more Palm Pilot use.