VEPP: Using Digital Storytelling to Explain and Intrepret Volcanic Monitoring Data

Kim West
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This is an exercise that is in development and has not yet been fully tested in the classroom. Please check back regularly for updates and changes.

Brief three-line description of the activity or assignment and its strengths (you will have an opportunity to expand on this description later in the form):

Using Digital Storytelling to Explain and Intrepret Volcanic Activity at Kilaeua Volcano

Using digital storytelling as a medium, students will interpret and analyze real-time volcano monitoring data in the context of a photo narrative. Depending on individual students' comfort levels, narratives may be written or shared in an audio file that accompanies the photographs.

Voicethread will be used as a means for students to share their stories with one another, both to encourage discussion and as a medium to receive feedback from one another.

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Learning Goals

Briefly describe the content/concepts goalsfor this activity (e.g., those involving pure vs. simple shear, deformation mechanisms, kinematic analysis, accurate description of samples):

By the end of this activity, students will be able to:

Recognize DI events from real-time volcano monitoring data on the VEPP website

Explain and communicate to others what happened during a DI event of significance at Kilaeua volcano

Synthesize different types of volcano monitoring data, along with their personal observations and thoughts

Briefly describe the higher order thinking skills goalsfor this activity (e.g., those involving analysis of data, formulation of hypotheses, synthesis of ideas, critical evaluation of competing models, development of computer or analog models):

Synthesize different types of volcano monitoring data, along with their personal observations and thoughts

Briefly describe any other skills goalsfor this activity (e.g., those involving writing, operating analytical equipment, searching the WWW, oral presentation, working in groups):

Develop creative thinking skills

Context for Use

What is the type of activity (a problem set, classroom activity, lab activity, project, field activity, and/or a writing activity)?

Stand alone project and/or writing activity

What is the class type (small intro lecture, large intro lecture, or UD/grad course; disasters, hazards, field course, or intro geology; with or without computers; community college)?

Small intro lecture, for intro geology, hazards, or any other course where 1-2 hours of class time may be devoted to volcano monitoring

Briefly describe the type(s) and level(s) of course in which this activity or assignment could be used (e.g., undergraduate required course in structural geology, introductory physical geology course for non-majors, graduate level seminar on geochemistry):

Any small lecture course with a focus on volcano monitoring or hazards.

Briefly describe or list the skills and concepts that students must have mastered before beginning the activity:

Students must be able to locate a DI event to complete the second half of the activity.

Briefly describe how the activity is situated in your course (e.g., as a culminating project, as a stand-alone exercise, as part of a sequence of exercises):

Stand-alone exercise

Description and Teaching Materials

Full length description:

First, students look at the movies on the VEPP website as one way of creating photo narratives.

Then, to create their stories, students must find an interesting volcanic event to talk about. In order to do this, they must look at the monitoring data and be able to understand when something interesting occurs. Students will be given one of several datasets to intrepret. This in-class exercise will involve correlating at least two sets of data (e.g. seismic, GPS, tilt) to find a DI event. When students fully understand the data and how to intrepret it, they will be asked to go to the VEPP website to find an interesting DI event that has happened within the past few years at Kilaeua volcano.

Once students have found their DI event, they will have to construct a photo narrative utilizing Webcam images from the VEPP website. They must explain, using words or their speaking voice (recorded in an audio file), the data they analyzed to find their DI event, what happened during the event and why, using Webcam or other images (e.g. maps) to support their arguments. For example, the photo narrative could be presented in a way that takes the form of a press release, explaining the activity of Kilaeua over the time period associated with their DI event.

Lastly, students will post their photo narratives on Voicethread to encourage discussion, learn about other eruptive events, and to receive feedback from one another.


Datasets from VEPP website

Webcam images or maps from the VEPP website

Voicethread software

Teaching Notes and Tips

Please describe any helpful examples of this activity, as well as any potential variations on this theme:

What tips might you offer to other educators planning to use this activity?

Check out Voice thread in advance.


Describe briefly how you determine whether students have met the goals of this assignment or activity.

Feedback will be provided by peers who comment on each other's stories...

Assessment will be completed by

References and Resources

Please list any supporting references or URLs for this activity:

Using Digital Storytelling to Explain and Intrepret Volcanic Monitoring Data --Discussion  

I really like this idea of using stories for learning science... perhaps you can assign story themes, like "imagine you are a park ranger and responsible for searching for a missing tourist in the active lava field...", or "imagine you are a homeowner and telling your grandchild about why (s)he cannot visit you this summer..."


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