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

Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 10:45 AM


COOROUGH BURKE, Patricia and MAYER, Paul S., Geology Section, Milwaukee Public Museum, 800 West Wells Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233, coorough@mpm.edu

This past May, the Milwaukee Public Museum completed the middle year of a three-year Science Explorations initiative. The program, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is designed to provide hands-on science activities for a diverse group of middle school girls from four schools in Milwaukee’s central city. The program includes units in botany, zoology, biodiversity and geology. All of the sessions feature Museum collections and curators to enhance the students’ experiences. Staff paleontologists taught three projects in the geology sessions. The first had students conducting a paleoecology count of a Silurian reef diorama and studying MPM’s Silurian fossil collections from the Milwaukee area. The students’ counts are compared to published research data using charts and graphs in a computer spreadsheet. The second project used minerals, rocks and fossils collected from around the state to highlight Wisconsin’s diverse geology and emphasize the geologic timeline. Finally, local core samples and microfossils recovered from these cores are employed in a stratigraphy program that uses a multi-layered cake to demonstrate coring, cross sections, faulting and correlating sections.

The qualitative and quantitative evaluation results from Science Explorations’ first year were positive. Jill Florence Lackey and Associates conducted an independent two-sample t-test to compare a control group (n=21) with a group of students that participated in the program (n=39). Results from the first year show a statistically significant improvement (p=< 0.001) in participants’ confidence in their geological science knowledge, while the control group demonstrated a significant (0.001< p=, 0.01) decline in geological science knowledge. In addition, the students reported a significant increase (0.01< p=<0.05) in their science grades. Parents and teachers expressed their positive attitudes towards the program in phone interviews and directly to the staff. Science teachers noted improved confidence in class, especially in labs, and more willingness to participate in class and volunteer answers.