GEOSCIENCE LITERACY: USING CRATER LAKE AS A PEDAGOGICAL TOOL TO FOSTER INQUIRY AND CRITICAL THINKING IN THE CONTEXT OF A VIRTUAL SIMULATION
With Crater Lake as the backdrop, students simulate the actions of a recently employed USGS geologist. Using this scientific role playing scenario, students are given a budget, choose equipment and make travel and lodging arrangements that will support research into the possible awakening of Mt. Mazama. Throughout the process, students are engaged during class with hand specimens, geologic maps, remote sensing data, analytical analysis of water, soil and gaseous emissions using virtual and live data sources (often data from currently active centers with transferable geochemical characteristics) and explore extremophiles associated with hydrothermal vents. Each of these data sources feed into a web based repository of events. The outcomes of this activity are to: research the geologic and cultural history of Crater Lake; make predictions and conclusions based on “real time” volcanic data; use provided data to determine the involvement of other local, state and federal agencies (FEMA for example); use Google Earth to display geospatial data; write a press release about the volcano’s most recent behavior, including an assessment of whether the area should be evacuated; and design a series of alert levels and hazards zones to protect human health in case of an eruption. Studies of the reflective papers and other written work produced by student’s reveals the tremendous utility of real world case history as an anchor for content.