Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 11:30 AM


GRANSHAW, Frank D., Geology, Portland Community College, 12000 SW 49th Ave, Portland, OR 97219, CADY, Sherry, Geology, Portland State University, 1721 SW Broadway, 17 Cramer Hall, Portland, OR 97201, SCHAUER, Jay, Wilsonville High School, Wilsonville, OR 97070 and WELLS, Jennifer, Center for Science Education, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97201,

In July 2011, ten teacher participants in a Portland State University astrobiology course held at Yellowstone National Park constructed a virtual field environment that documented their research experience in an extremophile environment located at the Queen’s Laundry hot spring located in the Lower Geyser Basin. Working under the guidance of two geologists, field teams gathered and archived textual/numeric data and panoramic imagery. One of these Geologists is a virtual reality designer who built a virtual field environment using spatial and temporal data collected by course participants. This represents the first layer of a Mars Analog Virtual Field Environment (MAVFE) designed to be accessed by teachers from a geospatial browser for use in STEM curricula. A third faculty member worked with teachers in situ to craft 1-2 week instructional unit plans that draw upon the VFE to teach concepts related to the hot springs environment in their secondary science classrooms.

Current efforts are focused on establishing a suite of assessment tools to evaluate teacher and student learning outcomes to optimize utility of the MAVFE in secondary classroom settings. Insights that have emerged include: (1) VFE creation is a highly motivating activity that provides a tangible product (2) VFE creation provides a multi-faceted mechanism for documenting and presenting field activities, (3) Teachers are interested in both using the MAVFE with their own students and in learning to use the construction strategy with students to build their own VFE for their own field research experiences (4) Teachers need a separate course from the Yellowstone field course to learn how to access and manipulate the MAVFE to feel confident enough with the technology to use in their classroom. In response, in 2012, we offered a course taught by the VFE designer and a 2011 teacher participant focused on using the geospatial software and unit plan development using the MAVFE.