2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM

Teaching College-Level Geology In High School. A Model for Increasing Rigor and Respect for the Earth Sciences

VAN NORDEN, Wendy E., science, Harvard-Westlake School, 3700 Coldwater Canyon, North Hollywood, CA 91604 and INGERSOLL, Raymond V., Earth and Space Sciences, Univ of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1567, wvannorden@hw.com

Most high-school students have little exposure to the Earth Sciences. Top science students in high schools tend to choose Advanced Placement courses in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Environmental Science. As a result, most high-school students are not literate in the Earth Sciences and few capable science students consider the Earth Sciences in college. If Earth Science is taught at all in high schools, it is usually offered to the least capable 9th grade students who are unlikely to pursue science in college, if, in fact, they even attend college.

It should be a goal of the Geoscience community to encourage high schools to offer a rigorous Earth Science course that will attract a wider range of science students. One way to achieve this goal is to offer a college-level Earth Science course, for which high-school students may earn college credit at a collaborating university.

Harvard-Westlake School, in collaboration with UCLA, is offering an Honors Geology course that has been successful in achieving this goal. Students receive honors credit as well as a college transcript with 5 quarter units that will transfer to most universities. In addition to attracting top students, it has the added benefits of promoting productive collaboration between the university and the high school, as well as demonstrating to both students and educators that Geology is as rigorous and important as the other sciences. This course can serve as a model for schools across the country.