Using virtual field experiences (VFEs) for science communication and outreach

Category: Time:
Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - 12:00 to 13:00
Room: URL: Speaker:
Kira Harris
Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona
Margaret Evans & Dave Meko
Calendar Status:

Virtual field experiences (VFEs) have become more popular in geoscience and field science education and outreach at both the K-12 and college levels. They are incredibly valuable in allowing students to experience or visualize an environment that they wouldn't be able to visit otherwise, while also providing an opportunity for them to learn about the science that researchers are conducting in that environment. VFEs have been shown to be particularly effective for hard-to-reach and hard-to-imagine field sites, like drilling ice cores on top of Mt. HuascarĂ¡n in Peru, sampling streams in the Dry Valleys in Antarctica, or the MOSAiC Expedition frozen in Arctic sea ice. However, this framework can also be applied to another type of environment that can be both difficult to access and imagine for students and the public: the laboratories where (paleo)environmental samples are subsequently analyzed. Built using off-the-shelf technology and accessible with only a modest internet connection and either a desktop computer, handheld device, or virtual reality headset, virtual field and laboratory experiences can showcase the connection between physical sample collection and (paleo)climate data while also serving as a publicly accessible outreach resource for earth and climate sciences.