Education

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Introduction

The second E in SEAMONSTER stands for education, and it is here we feel this project has its second great potential (in addition to that of pure geoscience research). In fact philosophically we would like to blur the distinction between research and education, or perhaps extend the notion of interdisciplinary science to encompass education as well. To bring this about we:

  • Bring interns into the SEAMONSTER implementation and development process.
  • Enlist collaboration with secondary school teachers and with secondary school students.
  • Seek cooperative relationships with University education programs like EDGE and CIRES Earthworks.


This page covers the basic points of our project education components with appropriate links to specifics.


  • The 2006 Fall AGU poster we presented on Seamonster Education is here.
  • The 2007 April IPSN Workshop paper in its current form is here. See below for an encapsulation of some of the text.
  • The 2007 Intern Journal is here.
  • Some theory-driven remarks on education


Education End-Objective

Engagment: We would like a student to draw such inspiration from the SEAMONSTER educational interface that they head for the library (first success metric) and then step outside and walk into a creek (second success metric). More prosaically the educational end-objective of SEAMONSTER is to open the door for students to gain a deep understanding of and connection to the environment. To this end we define and evolve a “SEAMONSTER pedagogy”, a set of guidelines and teaching principles that will facilitate project use as a teaching and learning tool.


SEAMONSTER pedagogy includes practical considerations such as financial support for teachers and students to attend field classes and help instrument the research site. To this end we are pursuing community-building partnerships with other education projects such as EDGE (Alaska) and CIRES-Earthworks (Colorado).


The guidelines also include curriculum materials, support for scientist in-classroom visits, software applications and web content for inquiry-based learning. The latter bears most directly on Information Sharing and so we elaborate a current ‘best idea’ for a learning platform. While our emphasis is on facilitating participation and inquiry we also feel an obligation to provide background and structure as possible to help students establish a basis for that inquiry (a nominal intermesh of constructivist and cognitive teaching philosophies).


An intuitive approach to creating a computer-based SEAMONSTER learning environment is to embed analogic models in a virtual reality space that resembles the study site. For example to consider hydrologic balance in the ecosystem one could create Lemon Creek watershed in a Virtual Reality world (such as Second Life), insert billboards representing camera perspectives, superimpose icons at instrument sites, and create the analogy model as a plug-in application that can be driven by either real or hypothetical data. We describe instantiation in terms of a Use Scenario.


Use Scenario

A student enters an Avatar-space virtual reality and navigates (‘flies’) around a virtual Lemon Creek watershed. Image data are provided by means of a Virtual Globe platform such as Virtual Earth, Google Earth, or NASA World Wind. Several ‘portal’ window frames are iconified in this environment. Selecting a portal frame will shift the virtual perspective to match that of a real camera and the most recent image collected by that camera in the real watershed is superimposed on the scene (ideally with the virtual perspective filling in around the edges). This permits support for both fixed photographs and live video feeds, where in the latter case the student can be offered control of the camera. This virtual environment gives the student both a feeling for the watershed geography and a sense of being present there.

Magritte-la-belle-captive crop.jpg


Within the plug-in application the student selects an analog model for hydrological balance. This model includes geometrically abstracted snow/ice reservoirs (Lemon Glacier, Ptarmigan Glacier, snowfields and the remainder of the catchment), lakes, stream flow as a tributary network, and effluence into the Gulf of Alaska. Time-varying processes are represented—precipitation, melting, outflow, ablation, diversion, evapotranspiration and so forth—and the model is easily animated over a chosen time interval. Input and output conditions can be selected by combining models and real data sources, where discrepancies between model and observed results become an important part of the inquiry process: “Why does the model show the glacier growing in size while the observations show it shrinking?”


A notional 'sequence of events' in the Seamonster education program:

  • Establish core science and monitoring objectives/drivers.
  • Build a wireless backbone up through Lemon Creek watershed near Juneau Alaska.
  • Install a network of instruments that connect to the backbone.
  • Time out: Who installs all these instruments??? Answer: College and high school students (with supervision).
  • Each installed instrument produces a data stream.
  • Also installed: Multiple web-cams.
  • Images and data flow along the backbone to the Server, Internet connected.
  • Create an interface between the classroom computer and the server.
  • Time out: Who builds this classroom interface??? Ideally: College students.
  • A scientist from our team visits classrooms to introduce the project to students and teachers, demonstrating "looking in on the watershed.
  • After the scientist departs, the teachers and students continue working with the continuously-updated information and imagery.
  • Teachers and students will be invited to visit Juneau, explore the watershed in person, learn GIS and field methods. See the University of Alaska EDGE program website here.


Year 1: Stream flow, temperature, precipitation (rain and snow), webcam imagery, and solar radiation information will permit teachers and students to observe and explore the interconnected nature of watershed hydrology. Further instrumentation will include water chemistry sensors and more; the Science page is where the motivation begins.


Further developments: Seamonster participating in the NOAA ISET Center is described here.