2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 4:30 PM


BARON, Dirk1, NEGRINI, Rob1 and PALACIOS-FEST, Manuel R.2, (1)Department of Geology, California State Univ, Bakersfield, 9001 Stockdale Highway, Bakersfield, CA 93311, (2)Terra Nostra Earth Sciences Research, 3220 West Ina Road #8105, Tucson, AZ 85741, dbaron@csub.edu

In this NSF-funded project, the Department of Geology at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) provides an authentic research experience for teachers and students from the Bakersfield City School District and the Kern High School District, the two largest non-unified elementary and high school districts in California. Both districts have a high percentage of low-income and minority students that normally would not consider a degree or career in the geosciences.

The project centers around a four-week summer research program and also provides follow-up activities during the school year. The research conducted in collaboration with teachers and students is aimed at elucidating the climate history of the southern San Joaquin Valley and the frequency of flooding in the valley. Many students and teachers are familiar with periodic flooding from personal experience and are aware of the larger issue of climate change in the past and present from news reports. Thus, they can directly relate to the relevance of the research for the region and for society in general.

Sediments in the dry lake basins of Buena Vista Lake and Kern Lake preserve a record of the regional climate history and flooding of the Kern River and its tributaries. In the first year of the project, 6 teachers and 10 high school students worked with CSUB faculty and students. Three cores from the lake basins were collected. The cores were analyzed using established geophysical, geochemical, lithological, and micropaleontological techniques. Teachers and students were surveyed before and after the summer program to assess the impact of the project on participants.

The project draws on the faculty’s expertise in paleoclimatology and geochemistry and takes advantage of CSUB’s existing research facilities. The analyses of the sediment samples range from simple tasks such as core descriptions or total organic carbon analysis to complex procedures such as the separation, identification, and chemical analysis of ostracode shells. Thus, the diverse group of participants can find tasks appropriate to their background and experience.