'Visualizing Earth'

  • Barstow, Dan (PI)
  • Souviney, Randall (CoPI)
  • Liben, Lynn Susan (CoPI)
  • Frost, Eric (CoPI)
  • Ride, Sally (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


9554504 Barstow Over the past two decades, technology has dramatically advanced the ability of scientists to use geographic visualizations to explore, learn and communicate about the geosciences. These advances include the vast amounts of data and images derived from remote-sensing instruments on satellites, the direct observations and photographs taken by astronauts, and the development of new computer-based tools to display, manipulate and analyze the data and images. These developments have truly revolutionized how scientists investigate Earth. We believe that these rich resources of data, images and software tools have a similar potential to revolutionize Earth science education, by enabling students to directly observe, explore, investigate and visualize fundamental concepts in Earth science in ways that have never before been possible in a school environment. These dynamic visualizations will enable students to gain a deeper understanding of key concepts in Earth science, and will enable Earth science educators to reach a broader range of students, including those who are not currently inclined towards science. Capitalizing on this power depends upon developing a deeper understanding of the ways in which students make sense of geographic images in technology-rich learning environments. In this project, we will develop the knowledge base through research and development in three areas: *Technology -- reviewing the vast array of data sources to identify those with the greatest potential for educational use, and adapting software tools for accessing, displaying and manipulating the data, to make them easy and inexpensive enough for school use. *Cognitive Research -- better understanding how geographic visualizations can help students learn, how technology impacts these visualizations, and how students differ in their development of the underlying skills of spatial, logical and symbolic thinking *Curriculum Models -- developing sample curr icula, and exploring instructional approaches and learning environments to better understand how to help students tap into the learning power of these resources. Three research projects which will provide a context for the integration of this technology development, cognitive research, and exploration of curriculum models: #1 -- 'My State From Space' -- an introductory unit on satellites, remote-sensing and geographic visualizations, which will help us explore students' initial responses to these tools and resources, with a special focus on the students' local environment. #2 -- 'Visualizing Weather' -- providing students will access to current weather data and images for them to interpret and make forecasts; with a cognitive research focus on how students integrate multiple representations and how this can be used to develop higher order thinking skills. #3 -- 'Engines of Change -- Volcanoes, Earthquakes, and Plate Tectonics' -- an investigation into how best to convey concepts of plate tectonics, with a cognitive research focus on understanding the development of increasingly complex visualization skills, and a technology focus on advanced tools of data overlaying and 3- dimensional rotations. This work will be done as a collaboration among four organizations: TERC (Daniel Barstow, Principal Investigator) with expertise in technology and curriculum development; UCSD (Dr. Sally Ride and Dr. Randall Souviney, Co-Investigators) with expertise in remote- sensing and Earth Science Education; SDSU (Dr. Eric Frost, Co- Investigator) with expertise in geographic visualizations; and Penn State (Dr. Lynn Liben, Co-Investigator) with expertise in cognitive development and geographic information systems. This result of this research will be a better understanding of how these rich resources of geographic data, images and software tools can be most effectively used in education, a deeper understanding of the related cognitive issues, and a set of sof tware tools and prototype curricula which demonstrate the educational power of technology-enhanced geographic visualizations. ****

Effective start/end date9/1/958/31/99


  • National Science Foundation: $1,874,495.00


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