MINING THE INTERNET: EARTH SCIENCE RESOURCES AND EDUCATIONAL SITES
Not every teacher is comfortable yet with using the internet, both at home and in their classroom. You may know that there are millions of web sites of every type and reputation, and that it is all too easy to stumble into a location with no redeeming value, and that you certainly would not want children to see. However, there are also wonderful teaching resources now available on the internet, with information you will not find anywhere else. In addition, some are interactive (that is, you participate in what happens on the screen) and many are a lot of fun for students. Teaching with the internet is becoming more important in classrooms across the country, and every teacher needs to become familiar with how to best use it.
If all this is still new to you, we suggest that you spend some time practicing on your own, using a computer similar to one you will use for your class. If it is not convenient to work off-hours at your school computer, and you don't have one at home, check your local library. Or, if you are near a college, you might be allowed access to a PC (or Mac) work station. By the way, don't worry about differences between a Windows PC and a Macintosh computer -- the internet looks and works pretty much the same on either type.
To use the internet (and also email), desktop computers require a telephone link or dedicated wire connection to a central computer called a Server, which organizes and passes on the signal from your personal system. You can buy access to a server from an "internet provider" such as SNET or AOL (for a monthly fee, of course), and be given a name and password to "log in" to the internet. If you buy a new PC or Mac, it will likely include several offers from companies that want your business and will make it pretty easy to get connected.
Internet access on your desktop computer is through a "browser" program, usually Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Explorer (both may be on your machine). Use the mouse to move the blinking screen cursor onto the screen icon (the little symbolic picture) for the browser, and click twice on the left mouse button. It should connect automatically to the internet and display a "home page" for your browser, internet provider, or school.
Somewhere near the top of the homepage, there will be a single line box that shows the internet address of the page you are looking at. You can move the cursor to that box and type in any address that you want to go to, followed by the enter key. Most addresses are preceded by http:// (you should assume it is required if not so stated). Most but not all addresses begin with www (for world wide web). You don't have to retype the address every time if you save it as a "bookmark" -- see the menu at the top of the screen -- which you then display and select from an address list in the future. You might also practice with the "copy" and "paste" function of your browser using the mouse, which allows you to put addresses and phrases in new places without typing them (especially useful for addresses that are very long and complicated).
SEARCHING FOR USEFUL EARTH SCIENCE INTERNET SITES
Your browser will list several "search engines" that can be used to find internet web sites on any topic. They all ask for key words or phrases. You should try to be fairly specific or you may come up with too many possibilities. For example, a recent search by www.yahoo.com using the search word 'volcanoes' found 140 sites divided among 6 categories, but 'United States volcanoes' listed a more manageable 34 sites. Or, you might use a web site that has already surveyed some of the internet (it is too large to find everything), on a page generally called "links," and all you have to do is click on a highlighted word or phrase to go to that site. Some link sites are described below.
WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY EARTH SCIENCE LINKS
There are thousands of interesting and useful earth science web sites that can be used in educational activities. You don't need to know their addresses or even to record them as bookmarks. Instead, just type in the address of a page that provides links to the sites, and bookmark that page. A page full of earth science education links is listed on the CTGeology web site (http://www.wesleyan.edu/ctgeology/geowebsites.html). Another fine set of links are described by Dr. Suzanne O'Connell as part of her web sites for environmental science courses at Wesleyan University (http://soconnell.web.wesleyan.edu/courses/ees123/links.html). Also see links posted by Dr. Kristina Beuning for her courses (http://kbeuning.web.wesleyan.edu). In fact, you may be able to access earth science course sites with links at many colleges and high schools -- try searching for the school by name first. Finally, the "motherload" of your information mine is CURL -- see below.
We have printed some "links" pages for your reference, attached to this document. Note that a printout of a web page may show the address of the page in tiny type at the upper corner. Use that address to go to the web page yourself. Links pages usually do not list the actual address, only a name for the site, so first you need to go to the web page before you can get to the link sites.
In particular, we recommend that you try the new CURL database of website links, listed by Dr. O'Connell, which has many interesting locations (http://www.wesleyan.edu/curl/). We also recommend the ODSN Plate Tectonic Reconstruction Services site (http://www.odsn.de/odsn/services/paleomap
/paleomap.html), which allows you to construct your own maps of the earth through geologic history. Another excellent paleogeography map site is http://www.scotese.com/, called the PaleoMap Project. Interactive sites include an exercise about Geologic Time and how it is measured using radiometric techniques (http://vcourseware5.calstatela.edu/VirtualDating/index.html)
A web site designed specifically for Connecticut earth science education is http://www.wesleyan.edu/ctgeology. The links page from that site is also attached. Other good Connecticut earth science web sites include OceanTeach
(http://members.aol.com/OceanTeach/home.html), the Long Island Sound Foundation site
(http://lisfoundation.org/index.html), the Connecticut DEP Environmental and Geographic Information Center (http://dep.state.ct.us/cgnhs/index.htm), and satellite images of our shoreline (http://stormy.geology.yale.edu/ceo/Projects/Faculty/CTFieldGuide.html).
Really, there are far too many great web sites to list here. Spend some time exploring ("surfing") the web, and try out sites that you might use yourself. New web sites come "on-line" every day, and also some sites become inactive or have address changes. Be sure to bookmark the ones that seem interesting and useful. If you find sites with activities that should be shared with other teachers, please let Dr. McHone know at Wesleyan University (firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 860-685-3339; fax 860-685-2151), so it can be added to the CTGeology site.
For people looking for a career change, there is http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/ework/, which lists Earth Science job openings, as well as training courses, seminars, conferences, field courses, services and products.