Geology Explorer 3D
The original Geology Explorer was an Immersive Virtual Environment (IVE) for teaching geology
concepts. Students explore the virtual world, complete tasks, and learn geology while assuming the role of
a geologist. This software has been shown to improve student learning with no gender bias (Slator, et al.
2005). However, it is only a “2.5D” experience. Players are only allowed to move along the x and y
coordinates, with objects passing in front of and behind the player. This led to the development of Geology Explorer 3D.
The primary focus of the Geology Explorer was to interest students in careers in geology.
Since geology is rarely taught at the high school level, student interest in a career in the earth sciences
tends to be lower than that of the more often taught biology or chemistry. Geology Explorer 3D
combines math and chemistry goals with geologic concepts. In this way, teachers in high school
mathematics, chemistry, and environmental science can use the Geology Explorer 3D in their classrooms,
resulting in an increased interest in a career in the geosciences.
Geology Explorer 3D is in the class of multi-user computer games where players explore a
virtual space in order to learn about it. These spaces are designed to be informative, and players are
assigned the first of a sequence of goals the moment they arrive. In the course of achieving their goals, the
players learn about the subject matter. For example, when exploring the simulated environment provided
by the Geology Explorer they will begin by learning how to use instruments to perform field experiments
in order to identify rocks and minerals. Once the players achieve the first set of goals, more advanced
goals are assigned.