USING INTERACTIVE EXHIBITS TO REPLACE TRADITIONAL INTRODUCTORY GEOLOGY LABS
Under this plan, students will meet with their lab instructor for one half hour per week. Lab instructors will introduce concepts, give instructions, and hand out assignments. Students will then complete the lab exercise according to their own schedule. While the University is raising funds for a new building that will include an Earth Science Exploratorium to permanently house interactive geoscience exhibits, one classroom will be devoted to displaying two to three exhibits at a time.
The Topographic Map lab is one example of an exercise that will change. In a typical topographic map lab, students are asked to look at a map and answer questions about the scale, contour interval, relief, etc. They may also be asked to construct a topographic profile or a simple topographic map using spot elevations. These labs tend to be boring for students, and students often have difficulty understanding how three dimensional data is represented on a two dimensional map. This traditional method will be replaced by an interactive exercise using a Geowall. The Geowall will allow the students to visualize topographic maps in three dimensions, making the concept of contour lines easier to understand. The addition of technology to the exercise will also add a level of excitement and interest. The effectiveness of such changes to this and other lab exercises will be evaluated from student surveys and by the comparison of test performance of students who completed the traditional vs. exhibit-based lab exercise.