TOOLS FOR MAKING VIRTUAL FIELDWORK EXPERIENCES: RESOURCES FROM THE REAL EARTH INQUIRY PROJECT
VFEs can serve in the place of actual fieldwork, but it is hoped that they serve more to catalyze and extend fieldwork than replace it. As framed in PRI’s work, VFE development requires actual fieldwork, and the VFE is a way to document that work and share it with others.
Resources include: (1) a set of regional Teacher-Friendly Guides; (2) a carefully crafted set of Bigger Ideas and Overarching Questions in Earth System Science, mapped onto idea sets like those in NGSS and the Climate Literacy Principles; (3) sets of questions that can be asked and productively investigated at any site, one set focused primarily upon the geosciences and a second focused upon ecology; (4) templates for Prezi and PowerPoint that help educators connect the question sets with local imagery and other data; (5) resources for connecting the field and the classroom via videolink in real time, and for connecting classrooms to one another, to facilitate students teaching one another about their local environments; (6) a still growing set of VFEs; and (7) tutorials for using Google Earth, Prezi, and other technologies in the service of making VFEs. Topics include using Google Earth to replicate the classic science education film Powers of Ten, but focused upon: a local landmark rather than a Chicago park; how to use the VFE templates; how to mash up USGS digital geologic state maps with Google Earth’s profile tool, to show the interplay between bedrock geology and topography; and more.