2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


JARZYNIECKI, Nicole A.1, STOKES, Philip J.1, BAKER, Gregory S.2 and THUMAN, Heather1, (1)Department of Geology, University at Buffalo, 876 Natural Sciences Complex, Buffalo, NY 14260, (2)Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, naj5@acsu.buffalo.edu

The Buffalo Geosciences Program (BGP) was initiated in 2001 to promote diversity in the geosciences by providing unique opportunities to underrepresented college and high school students. These opportunities include geoscience internships at the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College. One component of the program that has been instrumental in creating these opportunities includes earth science education and community outreach efforts at the Buffalo Museum of Science (BMS). The partnership between the BGP and BMS includes a sharing of educational resources and collections, joint creation of lesson plans based on preexisting programs, and BGP interns developing stimulating hands-on presentations and experiences to give to museum guests. Many of the demonstrations and activities incorporate already existing BMS exhibits into the presentations.

The Buffalo Geosciences Program Geoscience Opportunities for Learning and Discovery (BGP GOLD) lessons appeal to museum patrons because they involve current events and relate to topics of local interest. For example, the “Earthquakes and Tsunamis” presentation was given shortly following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that occurred in the Indian Ocean in December 2004. Another example is “Ice Ice Baby: Glaciers and the Last Ice Age.” The people in attendance learned how glaciers affect the land, but also that the topography of Buffalo and New York State was greatly affected by the movement of ice sheets. The principle audience of the museum is families with young children, and presentation topics are tailored to children in the age group of 5-10 years old. Even adults (parents and grandparents) are stimulated into conversations and interacting with the activities. Participants will often ask for more information on each topic, and popular demand has led to the creation of a short field trip guide that is distributed at each presentation. Although the lessons are designed for a younger audience, they are easily reworked into presentations suitable for middle and high school earth science classrooms. The BMS lesson plans will soon meet the New York State guidelines for science education, allowing for local teachers to borrow and implement them into their own curriculum.