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

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


VISKUPIC, Karen, Department of Geosciences, Boise State Univ, Boise State University, Boise, ID 83725 and STOKLOSA, Michelle, Department of Geosciences, Boise State University, 1910 University Dr, Boise, ID 83725, karenviskupic@boisestate.edu

Boise State University is developing interactive exhibits that will replace traditional lab exercises in introductory geology classes, and that will be used for community education. Boise State University serves over 18,000 students, and the Fundamentals of Geology class attracts approximately 300 students per semester. Starting in Spring 2005, several lab exercises will be replaced by activities using interactive museum exhibits. Ultimately, students will no longer attend a weekly lab session, but will instead complete independent exercises using such exhibits. Improvements associated with this change include a more active, independent learning environment for students, and freed classroom space for the university.

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.