AISL: Local Environmental Modeling: A Toolkit for Incorporating Place-Based Learning into Virtual Internships - A Scalable, Informal STEM Learning Environment

In this project, education researchers, environmental scientists and educators will develop a computer tool to let STEM educators and curriculum developers build local environmental science models. The system will use data about land use to automatically construct map-based simulations of any area in the U.S.

Users will be able to choose from a range of environmental and economic issues to include in these models. The system will create simulations that ask students to change to patterns of land use--for example, increasing land zoned for housing, or open land, or industrial development--to try to meet environmental and social goals.

As a result, students will be able to learn about the interaction of environmental and economic issues relevant to their own city, town, neighborhood or region. These map-based simulations will be incorporated into an existing science, technology, engineering  and mathematics (STEM) education tool, Land Science, in which learners work in a fictional planning office to study how zoning affects economic and environmental issues in a community.

Research has shown that Land Science is effective when learners are exploring issues in an area near their home, and the current study will investigate how and why local simulations improve environmental science learning.

This project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program which supports work to enhance learning in informal environments by funding innovative research, approaches, and resources for use in a variety of settings.


David Shaffer


Completed on August 31, 2021

Contact Information

David Williamson Shaffer