VIRTUAL FIELD EXPLORATION OF GRAND CANYON GEOLOGY AND GEOLOGIC HISTORY
We selected and are using the entire length of Grand Canyon as a locality for VFT development and research because it is a world-renowned geological landscape encoding Earth-system processes from the Paleoproterozoic to the Holocene; because its rocks, landforms, and processes can be used to teach about geologic time, stratigraphy, tectonics, and Earth and life history; because it is ubiquitous in curricula and textbooks (so the VFT will be broadly applicable); and because Grand Canyon-based learning outcomes can be readily aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and the Earth Science Literacy Principles. In tandem with developing and implementing the VFT, we are researching the comparative outcomes of in-person and virtual field activities on learning and on novelty space.
The recent media-enhanced controversy over the age of Grand Canyon has accrued considerable public interest. However, it is difficult for the general public—and even many geoscientists—to comprehend and weigh opposing arguments without experiencing Grand Canyon geology from rim to river. The Grand Canyon VFT offers this tantalizing opportunity, and thus contributes to Grand Canyon scientific literacy in particular and Earth science literacy in general.