Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 4:15 PM


GUERTIN, Laura A., Earth Science, Penn State Brandywine, 25 Yearsley Mill Road, Media, PA 19063,

Community-based research projects can be conducted in introductory-level geoscience courses that can fulfill an identified need of a community partner and aid students in learning how to make effective use of audio podcasting. Two examples are presented from courses at Penn State Brandywine in PA. One project was conducted in an introductory-level course titled “Earth & Life” with a local state park. Ridley Creek State Park has a five-mile multiuse trail with trees tagged with numbers. Walkers/hikers are challenged to try to identify the trees, then check the answer key in the park office. Unfortunately, with over 40 tagged trees, the park was not able to successfully accomplish its educational mission with this model. The students communicated with the education officer of the park and the organization Friends of Ridley Creek State Park to create an informative podcast with information on tree biodiversity and photos. The students created a second virtual tour of the tree biodiversity in Google Earth for people that are unable to visit the park.

Another project was completed in an introductory-level course titled “Water: Science and Society.” The students developed an idea during the semester to conduct a two-week awareness campaign of global water issues with podcasts and social media tools including Twitter, Tumblr, and Delicious. The students generated twenty podcasts that ranged from water conflicts and pollutants to interviews with leaders in non-profit water organizations. The goal was to spread the word about water issues to the campus and to a larger online community.

Podcasting projects targeted for the community can result in student learning beyond the content and effective use of the technology. For the Ridley Creek State Park project, the students presented their work as a poster at NCUR (National Conferences on Undergraduate Research) and published a project summary in the Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science (Woodruff et al., 2009). The water issues podcasting campaign was picked up and shared by the Science Centre Singapore. Most importantly, students learned how their original products were of interest and of use to others beyond the classroom walls. At the introductory level, students are quite capable of creating new material that can contribute to an identified community need.