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. 12
Presentation Time: 4:25 PM

GEODES: Increasing Diversity of Geoscience Students through Museum-Based High School Programs

PICKERING, Jane1, ALONZO, Jamie1, BRIGGS, Derek2 and HEGNA, Thomas2, (1)Peabody Museum, Yale University, 170 Whitney Ave, New Haven, CT 06520-8118, (2)Geology & Geophysics, Yale Univ, New Haven, CT 06520-8109, jane.pickering@yale.edu

Pre-college education provides a crucial foundation for geoscience education at higher levels. Out-of-school-time programs are a powerful tool to equip and motivate K-12 students to consider further academic studies and careers in the sciences. GEODES (Gearing Educational Opportunities toward Diversity in the Earth Sciences) is a partnership between the Yale Peabody Museum's after school program ‘Evolutions' and Yale geoscience faculty. The aim of GEODES is to supplement the formal school experiences of diverse Grades 9 – 12 students in order to develop their future aspirations in the geosciences and in the sciences more generally. The program promotes geoscience literacy by expanding each student's knowledge base while fostering a better understanding of post-secondary academics and improving college preparation.

The program was developed in collaboration with the urban New Haven Public School system. Eighty high school students come to the Museum each week throughout the academic year for seminars from practicing scientists, career research, fieldwork, college field trips, laboratory visits and behind-the-scenes collection tours. Twenty students take part in paid internships undertaking research with Yale faculty. The culminating event is the production of a multi-media museum exhibition that goes on display in the Museum public galleries. The program is designed to address factors that particularly influence college and career choices of underrepresented groups including peer pressure, the need for representative role-models, the perceived lack of interesting career pathways, and the importance of family involvement. Among other things, independent evaluation has demonstrated that the program increases students' interest and knowledge of the geosciences and geoscience careers, and that the program's combination of learning and social opportunities impacted students' attitudes to and visions of science. The strength of this program is in providing meaningful geoscience learning experiences within an established museum-based college and career-focused after school program.