USING COMPUTER ANIMATION AS AN INFORMAL GEOLOGY EDUCATION TOOL AT NATIONAL PARK VISITOR CENTERS
Animation techniques, similar to those employed in the entertainment industry, can be used to graphically depict the geologic evolution of an area, conveying difficult concepts like deposition, erosion, and structural deformation.
We have constructed a short test-case animation (10 minutes) highlighting the geologic history of Colorado National Monument from the Pennsylvanian to the Present. The animation can be downloaded at http://igp.colorado.edu or viewed at Colorado National Monument's visitor center auditorium.
Formative evaluation of the animation, conducted at Denver Museum of Nature and Science, indicates that the animation held the interest of the viewers and increased their interest in geology. Eighty percent of those polled indicated that they would be very to extremely interested in seeing a similar display at a Park they were visiting. Seventy percent of the respondents said that the animation increased their interest in the subject of geology.
Encouraged by formative evaluation results we hope to continue producing similar animations and web materials for other geologically significant National Parks. As part of a multi-park project front-end evaluation will be conducted to investigate (1) what types of geologic themes interest the public, (2) visitors current level of understanding and interest in geology, and (3) presence of any misconceptions relating to geology. Formative and summative evaluation will be used to gage the effectiveness of each animation.