Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:20 AM
EMPLOYING VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS TO PROMOTE DIVERSITY AND IMPART A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE TO THE GEOSCIENCE CURRICULUM: AN INTEGRATED APPROACH
We present our efforts to promote participation, broaden diversity, and impart a historical perspective in the geosciences through an interactive virtual environment. Through integration of emerging simulation technologies we have developed a prototypical virtual environment of a geological field study. This project seeks to develop and test the efficacy of a simulated representation of cave and karst formations for use in geoscience education, with the intent to increase interest and to support participation by students with mobility impairments. The expected outcome is that the emulation of a field experience that will meet course objectives and sufficiently preclude the need for physical “presence” during traditional field studies.
As part of the projects’ scope, we have sought to integrate additional media to enrich the educational goals and impart a historical perspective to the project. Subsequently, we constructed an avatar in the likeness of Materson (Mat) Bransford, a former slave guide of Mammoth Cave. We present our effort to create the avatar with historical accuracy and provide an engaging and unique educational experience through virtual technologies that integrates both historical and cultural, as well as the scientific perspectives.