Paper No. 93-7
Presentation Time: 9:35 AM
WHETHER THE EXPLORATION IS VIRTUAL OR ACTUAL, YOUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PLACE TO EXPLORE!
The Paleontological Research Institution offered a series of ten professional development opportunities to K-16 teachers and informal educators throughout much of the US. In Southern New Mexico educators were introduced to the ReaL Earth Inquiry Project, Virtual Field Experiences, Teacher Friendly Guides, and Google Earth as a tool in their classrooms. The project developed the theme, “Your local environment is the most important place to virtually visit in Google Earth.” This professional development program introduced teachers to searching in Google Earth for their local school sites in order to explore local Earth system science, mapping, and to investigate the landscape across a wide range of scales. Exploring the local environment is intended to expand out from the familiar, familiarizing students with the science of where they live, and with the technology before exploring landscapes around the world. The approach recognizes that understanding what a map (or a virtual globe) represents is substantial abstraction, and by first viewing the familiar, like the schoolyard, it is easier to grasp that abstraction. Lesson ideas are provided leading to the culminating activity which is to develop a school based VFE. One of the activities uses Google Earth to recreate the classic Eames film, “Powers of Ten” but centered on a local landmark rather than a Chicago park. As an extension of the original project, and in conjunction with other professional development opportunities, mini-sessions of the ReaL Earth Inquiry Project were run by Alcantar, with Duggan-Haas participating via video-link. During these mini-sessions, teachers were provided the information and resources about the ReaL Earth Inquiry Project and the accompanying Teacher Friendly Guides. After exploring their local school sites teachers were then encouraged to expand their lessons to incorporate local geological sites of interest and other areas of the country that students may be interested in exploring.