Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM


ATCHISON, Christopher1, STREDNEY, Don2, IRVING, Karen E.3, TOOMEY III, Rickard S.4, PRICE, Alan5, KERWIN, Thomas2, HITTLE, Bradley2 and REED, Phillip J.6, (1)Georgia State University, 455A Sparks Hall, Atlanta, GA 30302, (2)Ohio Supercomputer Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43212, (3)College of Education and Human Ecology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, (4)Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning, P.O. Box 7, Mammoth Cave, KY 42259, (5)The Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43212, (6)Department of Geosciences, Georgia State University, P. O. Box 4105, Atlanta, GA 30302,

Students with disabilities encounter unique challenges in any scientific discipline, yet the geosciences hold the lowest participation levels for persons with physical disabilities. With the emphasis placed on field studies, persons with physical disabilities face profound barriers to obtaining a higher education in the geosciences. Although there are many sub-disciplines within the geosciences that promote varying levels of accessibility, the overall perception of this science suggests a level of inaccessibility for those who are physically unable to study beyond a controlled, laboratory or classroom environment.

This presentation outlines a current project that is addressing the problem of limited inclusion to field-based learning experiences for students with physical disabilities. The overall objective is through integration of emerging simulations technologies and techniques, to provide a rich virtual environment of a geological field site for students with mobility impairments. Through the development of a synthetic field-based module that employs a virtual environment that interchangeably uses two and three-dimensional representation for presenting an alternative to field experience, this project will assess the effectiveness in engaging the student community and its efficacy in the curriculum when used as an alternative representation of field experience. The expected outcome is that the emulation would preclude the need for physical presence within the traditional field site, and provide adequate pedagogical representation for content transfer. Additionally, creating such an environment will impact all able-bodied students by providing supplemental resources that can both precede a traditional field experience and allow for visitors to re-examine a field site long after a field trip, in both current formal and informal educational settings. Based on the identified need to accommodate students with mobility impairments in field-based instructional experiences, this talk will present a virtual recreation of Mammoth Cave National Park, describing the potential for including all students in remotely accessing cave and karst field studies, regardless of their physical abilities.