Web Site by CSULA Faculty and Staff Makes it to the Digital Dozen List

July 28, 2003

Geology Labs On-line has recently expanded to include an environmental science component, earning it a new name—Virtual Courseware for Earth and Environmental Sciences. The popular site is the collaborative effort of natural science faculty members and support staff at California State University, Los Angeles: Robert Desharnais (principal investigator), Gary Novak (principal investigator), Dave Mayo, David Risner and Daniel Vasconcelos.

The site’s Web-based activities and lab exercises enhance the learning and teaching of geology and other Earth and environmental science topics to advanced high school and introductory college level students. Students can learn about earthquakes, geologic dating, and rivers: activities on global warming and biodiversity are under development. The exercises are interactive, requiring students to use their science process skills in order to understand the presented ideas.

The biology portion is a separate subscription Web site, explains Desharnais. Owned jointly by Benjamin Cummings and the CSU, it has already sold more than 250,000 subscriptions and is one of the most successful subscription Web sites for college science students.

“The virtual labs allow students to experiment in ways that are not practical in a traditional classroom setting. For example, in Earthquake, students can position seismic stations over hundreds of kilometers, set off an underground explosion, and measure the speed of the seismic waves. Because the virtual experiments require no physical set-up, numerous trials can be done in a short period of time. If a student makes an error, he or she can repeat the experiment and learn from these mistakes,” says Desharnais.

ENC is funded by the United States Department of Education and administered by The Ohio State University. ENC collects both physical and virtual resources useful to math and science educators. As part of its mission to serve educators across the nation, each month a dozen sites are highlighted. The sites selected for Digital Dozen must have current and accurate math and/or science content, and must support school improvement efforts and have useful multimedia features or helpful navigation.

Contact: Carol Selkin, Media Relations Director, (323) 343-3044