VR Excursions: Exploring Earth's Environment, Version 1.0

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9780130962621: VR Excursions: Exploring Earth's Environment, Version 1.0

For use in classes on Environmental Science, Environmental Geology, Physical Geology, Physical Geography and Earth Science. VR Excursions uses advanced interactive technology to give students access to a variety of complex environments (a nuclear waste disposal site, a coal-fired power plant, and a solid waste landfill site). These virtual environments are rich enough that they can be tailored to professor's individual course goals or they can be used with the accompanying lab manual and Instructor's Manual as a turn-key method of using the computer to give students "hands-on" field experience in the Earth and environmental sciences.

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From the Inside Flap:

Preface

Welcome to Virtual Reality Excursions, a set of three virtual worlds in which you can study complex environmental problems. This manual provides a quick review of why Virtual Reality Excursions (VRX) was developed and how you can use it to conduct research in simulated environments. The virtual worlds include: (1) a landfill, (2) Yucca Mountain, which is being considered as a national repository for nuclear wastes, and (3) a virtual worlds that includes a coal formation simulation and modern settings such as a coal power plant management model. Each of these three virtual environments has four research simulations, and each simulation has a research problem that can be used as a laboratory exercise, homework assignment, or demonstration during class.

As you work on the research problems, you will enhance your knowledge about environmental problems and how to study these problems. Importantly, VRX was designed to help you develop abilities to conceptualize interactions within complex environments, design and carry out research to study these interactions, compare your results to those of classmates and scientists, and synthesize a deeper understanding of the many processes shaping the environments of earth. In short, you will be doing science to learn science.

The manual has five chapters.

To the Student

The first chapter is a study guide that helps students use the research simulations effectively to learn science and think more deeply about what scientists actually do when they study complex systems.

Getting Started

Chapter 2 provides an overview of the system requirements for VRX, with instructions for installation and a description of the virtual worlds.

Land Full of Landfills

This chapter contains the landfill research simulations. The virtual landfill has a number of complexities that are similar to many existing landfills. The site has monitoring wells and equipment you can use to sample these wells. You will be able to conduct research on groundwater flowing near and through a landfill, exam ine possible contamination of groundwater by landfill leachate, and study movement of gases through soils near the landfill.

Yucca Mountain — To Store or Not to Store Nuclear Wastes

The Yucca Mountain research simulations in Chapter 4 provide an opportunity to conduct research related to the transportation and storage of nuclear waste generated by nuclear power plants. Yucca Mountain is a real site and has been proposed as the national repository for nuclear waste. You will be able to study the geology of the area, groundwater movements near the site, potential volcanism in the Yucca Mountain area, and the problems associated with transportation of nuclear waste from sites all over the United States.

Mire to Fire — Coal Power

In this virtual world of Chapter 5, we have created a Late Cretaceous mire in which you can study the initial stages of coal formation. Then travelling forward in time some 65 million years, you can study coal beds formed from the mire and decide where to site and how to operate a coal-fired power plant that uses the coal. Research opportunities include collecting and analyzing soil cores from the Cretaceous mire, examinating present-day geology and land use in the area where the mire was located, deciding where to site a coal-fired power plant, and conducting optimization studies of running the power plant.

If you're the kind of person who really likes to jump into software and explore a bit, skip to Chapter 2, which gives you the basics for Getting Started. On the other hand, if you want to get a sense of what VRX will do and why it was designed as a set of research simulations, Chapter I is addressed To the Student and provides an overview of how you can use VRX to improve your learning If you like compromise, throw the CD-ROM into your computer while you start reading this manual. The instructions on the CD-ROM packaging are a condensed version of Chapter 2's Getting Started, so you can quickly start installation.

From the Back Cover:

VR Excursions uses advanced interactive technology to give readers access to a variety of complex environments (a nuclear waste disposal site, a coal-fired power plant, and a solid waste landfill site). Research Design, Technical writing, GAS Meter, Scintillometer, Portable rock element analyzer, Geology, Groundwater, Toxicology, Nuclear Waste, Coal, Coal power plant. Statistics. PH and SC and temperature meters. Depth to water meter.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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