New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting — Abstracts

Developing Accessible Resources for Education and Training in Cave Science

Daniel M. Runyan1, Devra Heyer2, Raquel Lugo2 and Daniel S. Jones3

1Dept. of Earth and Environmental Science, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM 87801,
2National Cave and Karst Research Institute, Carlsbad, NM
3New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM, and National Cave and Karst Research Institute, Carlsbad, NM, Socorro, NM

[view as PDF]

The National Caves and Karst Research Institute (NCKRI) is an institute headquartered in Carlsbad, NM, specializing in cave and karst research, education, and stewardship. It is a research institute of New Mexico Tech, and one of its major partners is the National Park Service. Public outreach and education is essential to NCKRI’s stewardship and scientific goals. However, cave science is a particularly jargon-filled field and carries with it a lot of mainstream misconceptions, so it is vital to explore many different routes of public education. One of these methods is the cave and karst word of the week, which is a weekly social media effort to define a “jargon” cave science term. This is an effective tool in combating jargon in an easy and accessible way to a wide-reaching user base. NCKRI’s education department is also spearheading another approach: the creation of learning modules for students and training prospective park rangers or tour guides. Through the use of an online learning module system, lessons can be compiled into easily digestible sections. These learning modules walk the user step-by-step through lessons that explain cave science topics with clarity and efficiency. Lessons include text that describes processes in accessible language, visual depictions (including images and narrated animations), and knowledge checks scattered throughout each lesson to ensure user comprehension. These knowledge checks include quizzes, sorting activities, and definition matching to reinforce understanding of complex processes in cave science. The learning modules can be taken at the user’s own pace and are designed to logically string together concepts so that, by the end of a module, the user can feel confident in their understanding of cave processes. We are currently finalizing learning modules for volcanic caves and solution caves, with more planned for the future, including modules on speleothems and erosional caves. As these learning modules and other strategies in NCKRI educational outreach are realized, issues in public conception and productive communication of cave science can be addressed in ways that are both accessible and effective.

pp. 68

2024 New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting
April 19, 2024, Macey Center, Socorro, NM
Online ISSN: 2834-5800