Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM
BRINGING GEOLOGY INTO THE CLASSROOM THROUGH VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS: AN EXAMPLE FROM KENTUCKY
Scenic parks, whether national, state, or local, are often scenic because of their underlying geology. These parks are regularly visited by the public and provide a dynamic avenue for geoscience outreach. Although many geologists would agree that there is no substitute for field experiences, in times of shrinking budgets it is becoming increasingly difficult for K-16 classes to take field trips to natural areas. Instead, some teachers and students are using virtual field trips to bring nature and geology into the classroom. Natural Bridge State Park is one of Kentuckys most popular scenic attractions. A virtual geologic field trip to Natural Bridge was designed with input from park staff and naturalists, in order to emphasize trails that are most frequently visited, and answer geoscience questions that are sometimes beyond the training of the park staff to answer. The virtual trip can be taken on a topographic map base, a geologic map base, or a trail guide base so that users can relate to the information provided in the manner best suited to their needs. To maximize the effectiveness of virtual field trips for educators, virtual stops emphasize material applicable to national earth science standards and state core content. In fact, specific topic areas such as weathering, erosion, and landforms, can be used to guide the field trip. The content information and stops selected were chosen based on actual field trips with students, teachers, and district science coordinators. Links are provided to additional content information, definitions, classroom demonstrations and activities that relate to stops or subject matter on the virtual trip. Using dynamic avenues to take the virtual trip allows an educator options in the classroom as well as options for designing an actual field trip to the park.