This workshop will bring together geoscientists who are leaders in using visualizations in their teaching, learning scientists who study how we perceive and learn from visualizations, and creators of visualizations and visualization tools. Participants will consider what we know about using visualizations effectively to teach geoscience, what important questions need to be answered to improve our ability to teach effectively, and what resources are needed to increase the capability of teaching with visualizations in the geosciences.

The program will include sharing of expertise including formal presentations and posters addressing research results, teaching experiences, and issues in design/development of visualizations; opportunities for formal and informal discussion; and the development of an action plan. Topics for discussion will include

  • Using Visualizations to Tell Stories: Geoscience faculty use visualizations of observational and model data to describe various parts of the earth. These are often linked together or animated to develop an understanding of Earth processes with twin goals of understanding the nature of the process and the evidence for its role in the Earth system. Visualizations can be used to tell stories in lectures, text books, computer-based learning materials. We will explore what we know about both effective use and innovative use.
  • Using Visualizations to Explore and Understand Data: Scientists have long known the power of visualizations in making sense of data and thereby learning about the earth. With new access to on-line data and new technologies for visualizing data, this is becoming an increasingly powerful technique for teaching geoscience. We will explore how visualizations can support and enhance students abilities to learn about the Earth by working with data.
  • Powerful Emerging Tools and Technologies for Visualization and their Uses: New tools are emerging for visualizing and understanding complex systems and for representing complex data. We will explore new tools, their current role in scientific research and their potential for teaching geoscience.

This workshop is one of the 2003-2004 emerging themes offerings which are designed to move critical ideas and concepts into the main-stream of geoscience education. Participants are sought who are leaders in the field and are committed to participating in follow-on activities. For further information of emerging theme workshops, potential follow-on activities, and action plans investigate our general description of these workshops or examples from last years Biocomplexity and Web Design workshops.


The workshop will begin on Thursday afternoon, February 26, 2004 at 5:00 and will end 8:00 PM on Saturday, February 28. Participants must attend all sessions.


Participants are expected to:

  • contribute an essay describing their work for the workshop website
  • contribute to resource collections prior to and following the workshop
  • prepare in advance for workshop discussions via readings, writings, discussion or other activities developed by workshop leaders
  • participate fully in the entire workshop
  • be leaders in follow-on activities leading to broad implementation


The operational costs of the workshop as well as room, board, and workshop materials are covered by a grant from the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE-0127310). Participants or their home institutions must provide transportation to and from the workshop. In cases of unusual hardship, we will be able to offer a few small stipends to help defray travel costs (Application deadling January 9, 2004). For more information about travel funds please visit general information for workshop participants

Application and Selection Criteria

The workshop size is limited to 30 participants. The final list of participants will be established with the goal of assembling a group representing leadership in research on visualization, teaching geoscience with visualization, and development of visualizations, a specturm of institutional settings and teaching experiences, and a diversity of participants. Preference is given to applicants who hold faculty positions at two or four year institutions. Applicants will be notified of selection in early January. For more information visit general information for workshop participants


The workshop will be held at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Participants will be housed in a hotel and will eat meals on campus and in the town.

For More Information

Please contact Cathy Manduca (, 507 222-7096)