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:
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.
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
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:
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