March 24th, 2002
Kevin Harris’ sixth grade class has a mission; they need to find out why there are more red flowers in certain areas of a large field. Mr. Harris breaks up the class into groups to explore different parts of the field.
When the children come upon a flower, they place a flag in the ground to mark the spot and record its position and colour using a Pocket PC that doubles as a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver.
They do all of this at an ImmersaDesk™ in their school. Once all of the data is collected, the students meet as a group in their classroom to integrate and visualize it. Patterns that are not visible while collecting the data suddenly appear when that data is visualized as a whole.
Using MyWorld, a geographic information system for high-school students, filters are applied to the data to make the patterns more obvious.
This collaboration combines the VR educational work at the University of Illinois at Chicago with the desktop educational work at Northwestern University. It is part of a larger NSF funded project including the University of Michigan and Georgia Tech developing guidelines and an engineering process to support software developers in building effective computer-based learning environments.
We have been focusing our efforts on young learners and science inquiry skills. Combining the virtual environments work with MyWorld allows us to help children learn these skills in a controlled environment.
At the same time we learn how to provide appropriate aide to the children engaged in these activities. In this pilot study we wanted to see if the children could articulate hypothesis, take measurements, and use the resulting visualizations to explain phenomena in this virtual environment. Further, even if the children could do the work, we wanted to know if they would they be engaged in doing the work, especially during the rather tedious task of data collection.
Johnson, A., Moher, T., Cho, Y., Edelson, D., Reiser, B., Collecting Data and Looking for Patterns in a Virtual Field, Proceedings of IEEE VR 2002, Orlando, FL, March 24th, 2002.