Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (20–22 March 2011)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM


HYATT, James A.1, DRZEWIECKI, Peter2, JONES, Andy3, NAUMEC, Craig4 and CURTISS, Lisa4, (1)Environmental Earth Science Department, Eastern Connecticut State University, 83 Windham Street, Willimantic, CT 06226, (2)Department of Environmental Earth Science, Eastern Connecticut State University, 83 Windham Street, Willimantic, CT 06226, (3)Visual Arts Department, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT 06226, (4)Media Services, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT 06226,

Virtual field trips (VFTs) can provide a meaningful introduction to sites of geologic interest for informal learning and K-16 audiences. Commonly, VFTs use still images, text, and map-based cues as learning prompts. However, static content rarely captures the essence of a field site and provides limited opportunity for interactive learning. This presentation reports on long-term efforts building a VFT site that incorporates interactive imagery (constructed with real estate virtual tour software) and other multimedia to create more field-like VFTs that explore spectacular Providence Canyon State Park (PCSP) in southwest Georgia. Initiated by land clearing in the early 1800’s, PCSP consists of a collection of actively eroding canyons that expose >50 m of colorful Cretaceous and younger sediments. Intense weathering, along with slope and fluvial erosion, transportation, and deposition have produced a suite of landforms and geologic deposits that attract >50,000 visitors annually. Moreover, these landforms are ideal for addressing K-12 science standards (e.g. human impact units, weathering/ erosion science standards). In fact, some VFT content has been used in K-12 displays in the CT science center. VFTs also introduce geologic concepts that are relevant to undergraduate students. Virtual vibracores in conjunction with linked video content enable students to examine sedimentary records and reconstruct landscape change. Similarly, interactive vistas from 22 sites, with associated video content, provide opportunities for liberal arts students to consider the landscape from the perspective of a geologist and an artist. We incorporate learning activities that link immersive panoramic images (of the geology and related artwork) with 21 high-definition video vignettes, numerous virtual walks and fly-through image sequences and several interactive samples. The latter enables users to manipulate images of weathered samples from different geologic formations, as well as viewing visualizations of subsurface sedimentary architecture based on ground penetrating radar (GPR) data. As such, our VFT site provides a multimedia-rich learning experience that includes learning activities that can enhance or, if necessary, substitute for in-person field trips to PCSP.