Breakout session A:
Brownfield action

Breakout session A
Brownfield action

Peter Bower, Senior Lecturer, Department of Environmental Science- Barnard College

Brownfield Action (BA) is an interactive CD-ROM/web-based learning program, in which student companies conduct a semester-long, environmental site investigation of possible contamination at an abandoned factory site set in a three-dimensional virtual world. Used as a laboratory component of Barnard's environmental science course for 4 years, BA has succeeded at replacing fragmented, abstract instruction with an integrated, seamless, inquiry-based, realistic construction of knowledge. BA challenges students to investigate groundwater contamination by reconstructing a detailed narrative from diverse forms of evidence, including scientific and sociohistorical data, presented in multimedia formats. To reach a valid conclusion to BA's central problem in the form of a professional level Environmental Site assessment students must learn to integrate and attain practical familiarity with the principles and techniques of numerous disciplines, including chemistry, physics, geology, biology, civics, law, and economics. Repeated evaluations show that the pedagogical power of BA lies in its integration of rigorous interdisciplinary information through inquiry-based, learner-centered knowledge construction within a multimedia environment.