• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM


DUGGAN-HAAS, Don, PRI & its Museum of the Earth, 92 South Dr, Amherst, NY 14226, Amherst, NY 14226, KISSEL, Richard A., Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Road, Ithaca, NY 14850 and ROSS, Robert, The Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850,

ReaL Earth System Science is a project of the Paleontological Research Institution and its Museum of the Earth that helps teachers teach Regional and Local Earth system science using an inquiry-oriented approach, grounded in the idea of using the local environment to understand the global environment. We are using a three-pronged approach to meet our goals: 1) The development of a national series of regional Teacher-Friendly Guides to geoscience (; 2) Teacher professional development programming that focuses on building the technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge necessary for place-based, inquiry-oriented teaching geoscience (; and 3) The development of a national collection of ‘Virtual Fieldwork Experiences’ (VFEs) that facilitates comparison of field sites from around the country.

This session focuses on the development and use of the Virtual Fieldwork Experience (VFE) Database ( The database provides a map interface, in which a Google Map features placemarks with VFE abstracts, iconic images of the sites, and links to the VFE materials. A second database interface includes fields that use color-coding for quantitative fields like elevation, average January or July temperatures, and annual precipitation, and icons for qualitative characteristics like bedrock and soil type. The use of color-coding and icons coupled with sortability allows for recognition of similarities and differences in a glance. Thus, one should be able to find, once the database is more fully populated, a site that has ten of twelve characteristics in common with the user’s local environment, and another site that has a different ten common characteristics. This invites exploration and discovery of what differences in landscape, and other apsects of the environment, result from the differences in identified characteristics.

The database is being developed using Google Spreadsheet Mapper, and Google Forms. The VFEs themselves are created using a range of technologies at the discretion of the authors, but the most common platform is Google Earth.

As the database architecture develops and matures, project staff will explore how to manage contributions from educators outside of the project.

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