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outreach
  Our outreach activities will center on hands-on experiences, an interactive CD-ROM, and expanded development of a web-based virtual environmental learning space. A small network of sensors will be deployed at The Arboretum at Flagstaff and at a National Monument Visitor Center in the Flagstaff area. A computer in the public display areas of these two facilities will display real-time data (and past data) collected from the sensors. A CD-ROM will guide users and provide access to a range of materials about this research project. There will be general introductions to how to use the sensors to answer scientific questions (scientific method), how to view data from the sensors, and how to interpret the data. There will be mini-documentaries on how the sensors work (one) and on the scientific research accomplished with them (three). We will have NAU students help us in translating the videos into Spanish, Navajo, and Hopi. When school groups or other groups come to the sites a teacher or an interpretive/education specialist can also assist them with designing experiments to answer questions with sensor data. Then the sensors could be moved around and data collected to answer particular questions.

The Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research and NAU faculty are currently developing a Virtual Environmental Learning Space (VELS), a secure, web-based tool to assist instruction in environmental biology. Within this space, students will have access to a wide variety of resources associated with the C. Hart Merriam Elevation Gradient, including remote monitoring sites and equipment, special course modules, data, and reference and training resources. We will expand the VELS to include materials developed for this project's Arboretum/National Parks CD-ROM. We also will develop a virtual environment in which people can set up virtual experiments at the Arboretum and Parks sites and obtain simulated data based on the real data collected at those sites to replace the hands on experience available at the Arboretum and National Parks. Thus, courses without labs or budgets for field trips could incorporate this technology.

We will expand the VELS audience to include the general public and K-12 education. To assist us in expanding the use of the Virtual Environmental Learning Space for K-12 education we will hold a workshop in which NAU faculty, staff, and students will work with Arboretum staff, NPS staff, Joelle Clark of the Science and Math Learning Center , and K-12 teachers to develop activities making use of the site. We will recruit teachers for this workshop from under-resourced schools serving minorities and Native Americans and from rural and urban schools. The Science and Math Learning Center has extensive contacts with school teachers inclusive of the reservations.

Assessment of our outreach efforts will be multi-faceted. We will use a program of survey/interviews currently under development by Joelle Clark to learn about the effectiveness of current “Science in the Parks” programs and this evaluation program will remain in place to evaluate additional modules associated with this proposal (Clark 1998, Loucks et al. no date) . Also currently under development for the Flagstaff area National Monuments is an assessment program to evaluate interpretive displays, which we will adapt to assess the Parks and Arboretum displays. Finally a range of assessment tools are planned for VELS: website user statistics, web surveys, and evaluation of student work based on VELS will also be applied to this program. Test audiences will be used to refine the development of the CD-ROM

Amy Whipple will coordinate the efforts of the contributing partners in the outreach efforts, including running the workshop, and ensure that the assessment tools are put to use in refining these efforts. She will also assist in editing content for outreach products, as will the PI's and senior personnel on the proposal. Paul Heinrich will do the videography and video editing, and will produce the CD-ROM and website materials.
 
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