2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)
Paper No. 144-9
Presentation Time: 3:45 PM-4:00 PM

VIRTUAL FIELDWORK EXPERIENCES: BRINGING INQUIRY-BASED EXPLORATION OF EARTH SYSTEMS INTO THE CLASSROOM

AUER, Sara L.1, BESEMER, Christine1, DUGGAN-HAAS, Don1, KISSEL, Richard A.1, and ROSS, Robert M.2, (1) Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, sla73@cornell.edu, (2) Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850

Educators have traditionally used photographs and video to bring the field into the classroom. Such “fieldtrips” tend to guide students passively through a tour of an area, forgoing the degree of interaction, exploration, and deeper inquiry-based learning of actual fieldwork. The Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) is developing Virtual Fieldwork Experiences (VFEs) that allow students to virtually explore a real location with the purpose of answering the core question: Why does this place look the way it does?

Our target audience for VFEs is secondary school Earth science classes, with possible adaption for post-secondary contexts. Creation of a VFE begins with choosing a site that is visually intriguing, fosters natural curiosity, and can be "re-visited" to consider multiple concepts across an Earth science curriculum. To do this, VFEs utilize “cutting-edge” yet highly accessible technology and software to capture high-resolution photographs, panoramas, and video of an area. Though key features of the site are targeted for imaging, students experience a sufficient degree of the site that they must filter observations as they would at the physical site. VFEs are further supplemented with specimens and data as possible and can be found online at virtualfieldwork.org.

Our goal is for teachers to be able to create basic VFEs with as little equipment as a digital camera, tripod, and computer. PRI staff are creating VFEs with slightly more advanced equipment, such as a panoramic tripod head, a Gigapan Robotic Camera Mount (for high-resolution gigapixel panoramas), and a Sony GPS Imager Tracker (which syncs images with GPS coordinates). Free Picassa Web Albums and Google Earth (GE) software is used to store and provide a platform for this VFE media, respectively. Advanced stitching software (PT Gui) is also used to create seamless panoramas and 360 degree Quick Time Virtual Reality (QTVR) animations.

Creation of a core set of VFEs and a best practices manual are components of PRI’s ReaL Earth Inquiry project (NSF DRL 0733303). As part of the project, teachers can seek additional understanding of the regional geology of the sites for which they are using a VFE through PRI's Teacher-Friendly Guides to regional Earth science (teacherfriendlyguide.org). A national series of seven such Guides are in development.

2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 144
From Virtual Globes to Geoblogs: Digital Innovations in Geoscience Research, Education, and Outreach
Oregon Convention Center: B117/118/119
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Monday, 19 October 2009

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 41, No. 7, p. 385

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