Curriculum Development

In addition to modifying existing curriculum, I’m also heavily involved in developing new curriculum. Most of my curriculum development to date has focused on incorporation of technology in the classroom in a meaningful way, developing accessible field experiences, and designing high-impact demonstrations.

Digital Game-Based Learning

Games have been used as training and educational tools since the essentially dawn of human civilization. How did kids from ancient civilizations first start to learn how to hunt? By playing “chasing” games with each other. People growing up in society today are exposed to an incredible amount of digital media and gaming, and the literature suggests that computer and video games can be highly impactful educational tools…if properly designed.

I developed a hybrid dice and computer game to teach students in college freshman level students about the interconnected nature of water cycle. I plan to expand this game model in the future to include other semi-cyclic processes in environmental science (e.g. carbon cycle, nutrient cycles, rock cycle, etc.)

A student playing the game, “Roll a Water-Check!” Materials required are a D20 die, a handout on which students trace their path through the water cycle, and a copy of the game file on a tablet, phone, or computer.

Virtual Reality Activities

You can use Virtual Reality (VR) to increase the accessibility of field trip based class, introduce students to unfamiliar environments before visiting them there in person, engage students in experiential learning, and “bring” students to international and far away field sites that may be financially impossible to visit in person.

There is already a wealth of 360 images in Google Street View. These virtual field sites can be explored on a computer, tablet, phone, or through a full VR headset. I have a small fleet of inexpensive Google Cardboard headsets ($25/each) that give students the fully immersive VR experience, especially when combined with audio recordings of the site.

I use the headsets when I want my students to really experience the place I am talking about. For quick demos, I’ll typically load up a single 360 on one headset and pass it around while giving an introduction to the days activities. An example of a more in-depth exercise I have used in class is to have students get into groups of two and sit back-to-back. One student wears the headset and has to make observations of the scene they are seeing to their partner. The other student needs to record those observations and then make interpretations about exactly what geologic process, landform, or landscape the student is exploring. This activity is an exercise in scientific communication, interpretation vs observation, and extracting meaningful information from a field site.

You can “visit” some of my field sites in 360-degree view at the following links – all in your web browser!

General Beaver Complexes
Atascadero, CA:
Blue River, CO:
Grand Tetons, WY:
Near Boulder, CO:
Near Boulder, CO:
Near Boulder, CO:
Lundy Canyon, CA:

Beaver Complexes After Wildfire
Near Fort Collins, CO:
Little Last Chance Creek, CA:
Little Last Chance Creek, CA:
Little Last Chance Creek, CA:
Little Last Chance Creek, CA:

Choose Your Own Adventure Stories for Learning Complex Topics

The Tale of Sir Dayta Simmilatio: An Educational Choose-Your Own Adventure Story

The Tale of Sir Dayta Simmilatio

This choose-your-own adventure story, The Tale of Sir Dayta Simmilatio, is designed to introduce the concept of Ensemble Kalman Filter (EnKF) data assimilation in a fun, non-technical manner. It was written by me (Emily Fairfax), and illustrated by my brother, Shepard Fairfax. It can be printed out or run as a powerpoint.

The Tale of Sir Dayta Simmilatio

Our hero, Sir Dayta Simmilatio, embarks on a journey to protect the town of Cobble from the wicked snow beast Swee. He is given advice and help by several others along the way – but who can he trust?

If you would like a version with higher resolution images for projecting on a large screen, just send me a note on my “contact me” page.