vSURF's Research Connections

While a key part of the vSURF effort is education and outreach -- certainly the most visible part -- research is crucial as well. vSURF has three research roles, which overlap a great deal:

  • Supporting research of the scientests working at the Sanford Underground Laboratory;
  • Researching the effectiveness of technologies for STEM education efforts;
  • Research exploring the virtual world and simulation technology underpinning vSURF's projects.

  • Science Research

    The origin of vSURF lies in the opportunity and challenge of supporting the basic science done at the Sanford Underground Laboratory. Research which ranges from fundamental physics through extreme biology and beyond, including such diverse topics as ground-breaking engineering, seismology, and the ecological opportunities and impacts in underground carbon sequestration.

    vSURF's primary role in this area is providing education and outreach components supporting the science research at the lab. Close collaboration with the scientists and close attention to the realities of the research is essential. vSURF has a clear goal: the fascinating elements of the science will not be lost through oversimplification. Real problems and real data will lie at the heart of vSURF's work in this role.

  • Sanford Underground Laboratory at Homestake
  • SD EPSCoR Research Efforts
  • Center for Ultra Low Background Experiments at DUSEL

  • Education Research

    While supporting STEM research, education and outreach, it isn't enough to just make "cool toys" with technology. vSURF's mission includes research, assessment, and analysis of such work. What is effective? How can it be made more effective? What are the real impacts on learning? How can it best be integrated with curriculum?

    Currently, the vSURF team in developing its first educational simulation, the Cosmic Ray Detector Immersive Simulation (CoRDIS).  Educational research related to this project should begin in spring 2012.

  • vSURF Education Page
  • "Learning Science Through Games and Simulations" by the National Research Council (2011)

  • Virtual World and Simulation Technologies

    vSURF is closely allied with the Computer Game Design (CGD) program at Dakota State University. The virtual worlds and simulations created for vSURF provide a framework, testbed, and experimental platform for work by the CGD faculty and students. Additionaly, Digital Arts and Design (DAD) faculty and students participate in creating models, 2D designs, and audio resources for vSURF.

    Faculty from CGD and DAD who have been involved with the project include:

  • Dr. Steven Graham
  • Dr. Jeff Howard
  • Dr. Scott Mackenzie
  • Lynn Nelson, MFA
  • Projects and creative work associated with vSURF so far have included animations, images, and 3D models (particularly for the governor's video ; initial plans for a SURF-centric Alternate Reality Game; and proposals for a innovative, vSURF-based software engineering projects course.

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