published June 26, 2013

SENCER Model Seminar Participants Discuss Future Reach of Brownfield Action

Peter Bower, Barnard College at Columbia University

The 9th in a series of seminars and training sessions for Brownfield Action (BA) was held at Barnard College on May 17-19. BA is a web-based, interactive learning simulation in which students form geotechnical consulting companies and work collaboratively to explore and solve problems in environmental forensics (see Bower, et al., 2011, "Brownfield Action: An Inquiry Based Multimedia Simulation for Teaching and Learning Environmental Science" here).

In 2003 BA was selected as a "national model curriculum" by SENCER. BA is the only SENCER model curriculum that has created a "marketable product" (the simulation); it is the only simulation curriculum that has been disseminated nationally and that has developed a collaborative network of faculty. The BA website contains a "library" of users who have not only utilized the simulation but often in very different ways and they have contributed new curriculum and to the growth of BA.

The 9th seminar allowed users of BA to share their new contributions. These included the use of GIS to model the BA database and teach undergraduates about Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments as well as utilizing GIS; the use of the gasoline contaminant plume as the basis for a six-week high school unit on toxics and site investigations for high school students; evaluation tools for the assessment of the effectiveness of BA in an undergraduate hydrogeology course; the groundwater modeling of contaminant plumes from the BA database as part of graduate level student exercises; and new possibilities for furthering the BA simulation using 3D gaming technologies. Each seminar participant wrote summaries of his/her particular use of BA for use in a joint journal article to be submitted this August in conjunction with the SENCER Summer Institute. Six users of BA will be attending this Institute as a SENCER Team to speak about the dissemination of BA and the creation of its collaborative faculty network.

There is great potential for further dissemination of BA. The creator of BA, Peter Bower (Senior Lecturer at Barnard College and a SENCER Fellow), understands that BA must undergo significant technology innovation that yield advances both in foundations of learning technology and in educational research. A "next-generation Brownfield" project is envisioned in order to create a new interactive, 3D game-based learning environment.

Brownfield Action Seminar Participants, Pictured: 1st Row L to R : Bess Greenbaum (Columbia Preparatory School), Diane Dittrick (Barnard College), Peter Bower (Barnard College), Saugata Datta (Kansas State University), Bret Bennington (Hofstra University) and 2nd Row L to R: Gianluca Sperone (Wayne State University), Briane Miccio (Children's Professional School), David McMullen (CCNY), Jon Rowe (North Carolina State University), Art Kney (Lafayette College), Angelo Lampousis (CCNY) and not shown: Joe Liddicoat (NYU), Terryanne Maenza-Gmelch (Barnard College), Larry Lemke (Wayne State Univ.), Khoi Truong (Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning), Tamara Graham (Haywood Community College), Doug Thompson (Connecticut College)