Southeastern Section–55th Annual Meeting (23–24 March 2006)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


POCZKALSKI, Robert J.1, PEREZ, Ashley S.1, WISCHERATH, Lisa M.1, PHILIPPS, William E.1, JAYAKUMAR, Archana1, JARZYNIECKI, Nicole A.1, STOKES, Philip J.1, THUMAN, Heather A.1, BRINER, Jason P.2 and BAKER, Gregory S.3, (1)Department of Geology, University at Buffalo, 876 Natural Science Complex, Buffalo, NY 14260, (2)Department of Geology, University at Buffalo, 411 Cooke Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260, (3)Department of Earth and Plantary Sciences, University of Tennessee, 1412 Circle Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996,

Nationwide statistics from the National Science Foundation (NSF) show that few underrepresented minority students are earning undergraduate degrees in the geosciences. Annually, less than 6% of geoscience Bachelor's degrees are awarded to African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Native Pacific Islanders, yet these groups make up a majority population in many urban school systems. Of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) fields, the geosciences continually lag behind other areas in terms of diversification at the college and university level. Education professionals will readily concede that diversity is important for the growth of academic institutions on all levels. Students in a diverse learning environment benefit from broadened social interaction, are more self-confident, and are well-prepared for challenging careers. Unfortunately, most college and university geoscience departments lack a diverse student presence, or the means to assemble one.

Operating in Western New York, the Buffalo Geosciences Program (BGP) has been successful in recruiting diverse groups into geoscience departments at the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College. Through extensive outreach to the Buffalo Public Schools, museums, and science centers, the program has been able to reach a large and very broad audience of participants. In 2005, the BGP interacted with approximately 2,000 elementary school students, 200 middle school students, 900 high school students, and 4,700 college and university undergraduates. Additionally, the program has given presentations and distributed materials to over 130 Buffalo Public School teachers on geoscience careers and special internship opportunities available to high school students. On the heels of their commitment to improving the quality of education, the Knox County Schools have a tremendous opportunity to implement a similar collaboration with the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Recent results from the BGP and other NSF-sponsored programs show that outreach to all grade levels can lead to enhanced diversity in undergraduate geoscience tracts.