Teach the Earth > Geoscience in the Field > Field Experiences > Browse Field Experiences > Placing Palm Pilot handheld technology in the hands of introductory-level geoscience students during field experiences

Placing Palm Pilot handheld technology in the hands of introductory-level geoscience students during field experiences

submitted by

Laura Guertin Penn State Delaware County
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Nov 5, 2004

GSA Poster (Acrobat (PDF) 1.3MB Nov5 04)

Learning Goals

introductory-level geoscience exercises using technology as a tool

Geologic Skills:
using technology for geoscience fieldwork

Higher Order Thinking Skills:
formulating hypotheses, figuring out what data to collect, how to process the data, interpret

Other Skills:
data collection, creating and interpreting graphs, writing scientific reports


Instructional Level:
undergraduate entry level, can use the technology tools in upper division and majors courses

Skills Needed:
students need some basic training to use the handheld technology before having the students use them in the field to collect data

Role of Activity in a Course:
the technology is used in field exercises that scaffold in the scientific method and technology use

Data, Tools and Logistics

Required Tools:
students can use Palm Pilots, Pocket PCs, or other units that have been developed by PASCO and Vernier

Logistical Challenges:
keeping the batteries charged in the handheld units, students treating the equipment properly and with respect, technology becoming outdated


Evaluation Goals:
can the students use the technology successfully? Does it streamline the data collection? Are students becoming more confident using technology?

Evaluation Techniques:


Students use handheld computers (Palm Pilots) that have data collection forms, e-Books for reference, and instructional videos for assistance. The handhelds are used during field exercises for data collection. Upon hotsyncing the Palms, all data collected by the students are available online and easily exported to Excel for students to process, create graphs and interpret, etc.
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