Using Virtual Reality in Middle School Biology

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Located in southern Mississippi, the Pascagoula (also referred to as the Singing) River watershed is the largest natural waterway in the continental United States. This Singing River Scenes for Education (SRSE) project will achieve the following goals:•develop the VR environment, •conduct field testing in selected middle school classrooms, and •conduct research to determine the effectiveness of the VR environment in meeting educational objectives. In the VR environment, students will navigate streams from the headwaters of the watershed to the Pascagoula River and on to the Mississippi Sound, performing hydrology, soil, and land cover protocols to collect data at one of three sites: an upstream site, at the mouth of the river, and in the Sound. The VR environment will incorporate fluid dynamics, automated student tracking mechanisms, and simulated investigations. Protocols and lessons from the project Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE™) will be utilized to develop the VR environment and to guide actual field experiences for participating students during field testing. Students will submit actual field data to the GLOBE database. Ultimately, the VR environment will also be submitted to the GLOBE website for international access. The SRSE project will accomplish the demonstration and infusion of existing Instructional Technology (i.e., GPS, GIS, and Computer Science) pursuits within education to deliver a true 3D-immersive learning environment that can be replicated across core curricula. Current gaming technology can potentially allow a low cost development solution that fits within existing educational infrastructure, both locally and nationally. The SRSE project will not only serve as a demonstration but also a model for how student/teacher interactions can be developed across the curriculum.

Keywords: Virtual Reality, Instructional Technology, 3D-Immersive Learning
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Using Virtual Reality in Middle School Biology

Dr. Mary Nell McNeese

Associate Professor, Educational Leadership and Research, University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS, USA

Mary Nell McNeese holds a Ph.D. in educational research and is an associate tenured professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Research at the University of Southern Mississippi in the USA. She serves as a grant Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) on the University's Campus Link grant which stimulates the creation of campus service volunteer centers. Additionally, she served as Co-PI on the Preparing Mississippi's Teachers to Use Technology (PT3) project which funded the infrastructure to teach technology to pre-service and in-service teachers.

Dr. Sherry Herron

Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS, USA

Sherry Herron has a Ph.D. in science education and is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. She has worked in curriculum development, professional development, and educational research for several National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Education-funded projects. She is the director of the Center for Science and Mathematics Education, vice-president of the Mississippi Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, director of the state Science Olympiad, and campus advisor of the University's Roots & Shoots chapter, supported by the Jane Goodall Foundation

Tulio Sulbaran

Associate Professor, Department of Construction Engineering, University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA

Tulio Sulbaran holds a Ph.D. in construction engineering and is an associate professor in that department at the University. He is the current director of The Innovation for Construction and Engineering Enhancement Center which develops, implements, and assesses the latest educational technology. Additionally, he is the principal investigator on several funded National Science Foundation projects in the field of virtual reality.

Ref: T08P0129