Understanding Science 2.0: How A New Interactive Visualization Tool Is Improving Teaching And Learning Of The Nature And Process Of Science

Concurrent Session 8
MERLOT Award Winner

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Brief Abstract

The University of California Museum of Paleontology Understanding Science website provides novel ways to engage learners in how science really works. Although science is a dynamic and iterative process, most process-of-science graphics don’t adequately represent the non-linear nature of scientific practices. A new interactive tool associated with the Understanding Science website facilitates critical thinking about how science works through use of visual maps on the process of science and that can be annotated with text, images, and supplemental files. Through this tool users can gain appreciation for the process of science as exciting, dynamic, and unpredictable, and as part of a larger community endeavor that relies on creative people thinking outside the box.


Lisa D. White is a Professor of Geology and Chair of the Geosciences Department at San Francisco State University where she has been a faculty member since 1990. She received Ph.D. in earth sciences from University of California at Santa Cruz in 1989. Dr. White has extensive experience with science outreach programs for urban students and she is active in efforts to increase diversity in the geosciences. She is the principal investigator of a five-year grant recently awarded to the SFSU Geosciences Department by the National Science Foundation, "Reaching Out to Communities and Kids with Science in San Francisco" (SF-ROCKS). The project aims to increase the number of traditionally underrepresented students in the geosciences by engaging SF Unified School District high school students in supervised environmental research projects and training. She coordinated the Minority Participation in the Earth Sciences (MPES) Program at the U.S. Geological Survey from 1988-1995, supervised the NASA Sharp-Plus program at San Francisco State in 1994, and she was recently appointed (2000) to chair the Geological Society of America (GSA) Committee on Minorities and Women in the Geosciences. She is a micropaleontologist by training (specializing in fossil diatoms) and has distinguished herself equally as a teacher, researcher, and mentor as she continues to work and publish on the stratigraphy of siliceous and organic-rich rocks around the Pacific Rim. At SFSU she teaches classes in paleontology, the history of life, and oceanography.

Extended Abstract