Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


HEISER, David Mangold, Peabody Museum, Yale University, 170 Whitney Ave, New Haven, CT 06511 and GOLDEN, Kent B., Department of Film, Video, and Interactive Media, Quinnipiac University, 275 Mount Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT 06518-1908,

The discipline of geology was built on field work, and ideally every student would have the chance to learn about tectonic and erosional forces through direct observation of, and interaction with, the resulting landforms. But the reality in today’s K-12 schools is that field trips are increasingly difficult to arrange due to funding constraints, safety concerns and administrators’ reluctance to give up precious classroom time. With NSF funding, the Yale Peabody Museum has developed and field-tested the first of a set of virtual field geology experiences that rely on inquiry-based pedagogy and differ significantly from simple slide shows or guided tours. These experiences: (1) provide pre- and post-field trip reinforcement for students within a real-world context (2) supply background material to increase teacher confidence in interpreting the landscape and (3) provide viable, engaging alternatives to field studies when trips are not possible. Furthermore, working in tandem with a museum allows access to specimens and current maps, animations, and other visual media that can augment the experience.

Virtual field investigations (VFIs) introduce a geological problem or mystery through the use of photos and video, challenging students to address the overarching question, “Why does this place look the way it does?” In response to student-generated questions and initial hypotheses, teachers introduce or give access to other information to point students in the right direction. The Peabody’s first complete VFI relied on the expertise of Yale Geology faculty and features video footage and narration by emeritus Connecticut State Geologist Ralph Lewis. The three field sites within the investigation were chosen both for the clarity of geological features and their accessibility to student groups – all are open to the public and are relatively safe. In addition, clever filming, editing and animation by a collaborating media specialist make this an attractive, engaging exercise for students. Reports from teachers who have used this with their students are highly favorable.

This digital poster will introduce the Peabody’s VFI model, allow visitors to step through the web-based experience, and address both theoretical and practical reasons for their unique value in training students to make sense of the world around them.