Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 3:15 PM
TEACHING GEOLOGY TO FUTURE K-12 SCIENCE TEACHERS IN SOUTHERN ALABAMA: GEOSCIENCE EDUCATION IN A ROCK-FREE URBAN ENVIRONMENT
K-12 teachers in Alabama, as in other areas of the United States, are required to teach components of Earth sciences in most middle and high school science classes. Unfortunately, our teachers seldom have sufficient training to confidently communicate geological concepts to their students. Education majors specializing in science at the University of South Alabama are only required to take a single semester introductory geology class that concentrates on rocks and minerals. They are bureaucratically prevented from taking a second introductory class on Earth history that would outline among other things, the origin of the Earth, evolution, and major tectonic and extinction events. In order to better prepare future science teachers to teach Earth sciences to their students, the Department of Earth Sciences initiated new courses and research opportunities exclusively for education majors. One course entitled Earth History for Teachers expands upon the general Earth history class by adding several teaching activity assignments to the curricula. With the assistance of geology faculty, education majors devise innovative teaching plans to communicate important Earth sciences concepts such as geological time to various grades of middle and high school students. Select education majors are also offered directed research projects of local significance that will better prepare them to teach geological processes (especially those that are sedimentary in nature) to their students. One project currently nearing completion is resolving the organic content of estuarine sediment in human-impacted embayments around Mobile, Alabama. Through this research, the education major has learned about siliciclastic lithology, grain size analysis, sedimentation rates, stratigraphy and environment geology. These are subject areas that she will now be able to better explain to her students in a K-12 classroom.