Abstract # 5823 Event # 124:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 14, 2014 04:45 PM-05:00 PM: Session 19 (Decatur A) Oral Presentation


M. Baker, B. Canning, E. Dayon, R. Lazo and C. LaChance
Rhode Island College, Anthropology Department, Providence, RI 02908-1991, USA
     It is well documented that fewer American students pursue expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) when compared with those in other developed nations. There is commitment to increasing these numbers and to foster interest and expertise in these areas among students of all age groups. This project pilots the concept of "Virtual Fieldwork" in which a cell phone, signal booster, antenna and international roaming data plan were used to livestream video from the Curú Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica into a classroom at the Metropolitan Regional Center and Technical Center (MET) high school in Providence, RI. Undergraduate students at Rhode Island College (RIC) carried out a research project designed by the MET students, shared their experiences and answered questions from the MET students in real time as we followed monkeys, observed leaf-cutter ants and climbed through the mangroves. The MET students became involved in the project: asking questions, directing the camera, and planning the next call-in. Students who are unable to travel to Costa Rica were provided with exposure to field research, primate ecology and sustainable development. After returning to the United States, we joined the MET students in their classroom and discussed our shared experiences. This project serves as an accessible model for engaging STEM education, involving undergraduates in research, international collaboration and communicating science to a lay audience.