Exploring Badlands National Park

Every year, I offer a field based professional learning opportunity (PLO) for educators. This year's PLO was Exploring Badlands National Park through Science and Storytelling held June 18-21 in South Dakota. Nine educators spent one day in class and three days and two nights in Badlands National Park doing hydrology field studies using GLOBE protocols (water temperature, water clarity, conductivity and pH) in addition to other opportunities.

As part of my own professional learning, I set myself a challenge of trying to tell the story of the field studies in ways other than strictly prose. Particularly, I wanted to try videos and mapping to tell a story.

Below are two videos I made. These are the ones that deal directly with the water quality monitoring.


You can see the entire playlist with videos that cover other aspects of the PLO on YouTube. At this writing, the final video has yet to be completed.

I have only just started thinking about how to tell a story in maps. I created a map with important locations for the class website and then updated it with important locations from our field monitoring. I have been thinking about how to use Google Tourbuilder to also tell this story. That project is still in its earliest stages of development and not quite ready for public inspection.

Even though I wanted to try my hand at videos and maps, I did do a straight up blog about the field studies, using National Geographic's Open Explorer platform. Open Explorer is dedicated to promoting and encouraging exploration. It's not just for the NatGeo explorers. It's for everyone who wants to participate in exploration and in science.

From David Lang, the founder:

Open Explorer is a community powered by our digital field journal platform. It’s for everyone: university researchers to citizen scientists, students to professional explorers. If you have a story to tell or a place to explore anywhere in the world, you can do it here.

I'm throwing this out to the GLOBE community to see what they do with it.

My blog is where I got into the nitty gritty detail of doing a field based professional learning opportunity with educators. The blog functions as my field journal with all the exhaustive detail you would expect from such a document. Field journals should be, in my opinion, rather dense reading since you are recording EVERYTHING, not knowing what will be useful or interesting later.

This particular PLO is well documented if nothing else. Thank you to the nine educators who were the beta testers as I had never run this particular kind of field based PLO before. As with every new venture (and old venture for that matter) there were lessons learned but the plan is to offer it again next year. The tentative dates are June 24-27, 2019. An announcement will be made here with more particulars in 6 months or so.


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