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

Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 4:45 PM


HYATT, James A.1, DRZEWIECKI, Peter A.2, SCHROEDER, Timothy J.2, CORON, Cynthia R.3 and FLEMING, Thomas H.4, (1)Environmental Earth Science, Eastern Connecticut State Univ, 83 Windham Street, Willimantic, CT 06226, (2)Environmental Earth Sciences Department, Eastern Connecticut State Univ, 83 Windham Street, Willimantic, CT 06226, (3)Earth Sciences, Southern Connecticut State Univ, 501 Crescent Street, New Haven, CT 06515, (4)Department of Earth Sciences, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT 06515, hyattj@easternct.edu

Introductory Earth Science classes commonly serve multiple purposes including fulfilling general education requirements, improving science literacy, drawing majors to the discipline, and, for many students, providing an initial exposure to field-based science. However, educating the broad spectrum of traditional and mature students attracted to these classes, as well as students with disabilities, presents significant pedagogical and logistical challenges. For example, access to and maintenance of laboratory mineral collections can be difficult and costly, while ensuring ADA compliance at field sites may not be possible. Furthermore, even under the best of circumstances, integrating classroom discussion, laboratory analysis, and field observation in ways that are meaningful to a diverse student body is difficult.

This presentation describes and demonstrates selected aspects of a web-accessible learning tool developed to improve students’ abilities in identifying minerals and in relating laboratory and field-based activities to the natural history of Connecticut. This work is part of a new partnership between two CSU institutions with a shared interest in liberal arts education and in developing a better understanding of the environment. We make extensive use of digital video and high quality imagery acquired both in the field and in a state-of-the-art digital television studio. Our mineral identification module includes both explanations of mineral properties and actual testing capabilities for several standard (e.g. luster, streak, hardness, cleavage/fracture) and special mineral properties (e.g. magnetism, reaction with acid, iridescence, density, etc.). We emulate approaches used in the laboratory, and plan to include web-tracking capabilities that will allow us to assess learning pathways used by our students. We also include a virtual field trip (VFT) module that features short video vignettes with expert commentary. These VFT’s include examinations of minerals exposed in outcrop, sedimentary records of environmental change, glacial landforms, rift-valley volcanic and sedimentary rocks, and aspects of the structural geology of Connecticut.