Track: Best Practices Showcase

Title A Panel On: The Rejuvenation of STEM "Cells" By Avatars
Author(s): Veronica Pistoia
Moderator(s):BigRed Coyote
Date Saturday, March 17 08:00
Location: CAVE/EdTech Auditorium
Abstract Abstract A Panel On: The Rejuvenation of STEM “Cells” By Avatars Presenters: Dr. Larysa Nadolny, Educational Technology-West Chester University; Dr. Jodi Reeves, Engineering Technology & Media-National University; Dr. Jean-Claude Bradley, Chemistry Scientist & E-Learning Coordinator –Drexel University; Dr. Charles Lesko, Technology & Computer Science - East Carolina University Mediator/Author: Veronica L. Pistoia-West Chester University, Biology Graduate Student Static...tedious...exhausting…mindboggling. These are words that often parallel students’ experiences with learning fundamentals of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM). The inception of the well-known virtual world (VW) Second Life, by Linden Lab in 2003, has begun to create a one hundred and eighty degree twist on STEM so that it is now just beginning to be more accepted by students of myriad ages as: Stimulating, Tangible, Engaging, and Meaningfully Multifaceted. What student would not find standing next to a molecular model they constructed in a VW classroom, absorbing? Second Life has sparked professionals around the globe to revamp their teaching methodologies. Secondary Schools, Universities, Business, & even NASA are working to emulate the engaging and realistic ambience that Second Life and other virtual worlds deliver, made evident by 80,000 plus users at any point in time (Lang & Bradley, 2009). Microbiology, Math, Physics, Computer Science, Engineering, Science & Ethics, Ecology, and Immunology concepts are being instituted in these worlds. With the assistance of established professors from STEM backgrounds, this panel will address: Technology Acceptance Model, Current VW Designs, STEM Objectives vs. “Real Life” Skills, and Future Projections of VW’s As Mainstream Learning Tools.
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Bio(s): Veronica Pistoia: Veronica Pistoia is a current graduate student of West Chester University. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Biology and Economics from Mansfield University in 2008. While at Mansfield, she worked a TA and SI for several science and nursing courses. She is working on her second semester as a graduate student focusing two of her passions: Science Education and Research in both Plant ecology & Neurobiology. She is currently conducting preliminary planarian research with her potential thesis advisor. She hopes to work in a quality control water testing lab as well as complete an internship at a pharmaceutical company this summer. By next semester she will determine her thesis focus and continue on with her teaching interest. Veronica was first introduced to Virtual Worlds through a Biocomputing graduate level course, which required the use of myriad on-line freeware programs and applications to design a web page and complete assignments. She is now committed to become proficient in Virtual World Science Education & Ethics, as she believes that it will become an integral skill needed to teach any level of students, within the next decade.

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