Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM
INQUIRY-BASED, HANDS-ON, K-12 OUTREACH DEMONSTRATIONS
The Eastern Illinois University Geo-Outreach program involves undergraduates bringing geology to local classrooms. Four demonstrations - fossils, erosion, groundwater, and mineral identification - help K-12 students gain a better understanding of geology. The fossil demonstration offers hands-on exposure to prehistoric remains that students usually see only in textbooks. The erosion demonstration is an excellent visual of erosion's effects on urban and rural areas. Simulations of levees, dams, buildings, homes, and vegetation are placed in a small sand trough with a meandering stream. Students predict effects of water surges. The groundwater demonstration reveals pollution of wells and lakes and the effect on the surrounding environment. The cross-sectional view beneath the ground surface allows understanding of changes to the water table and movement of contamination, shown through use of colored dyes. When the demonstration is complete, clean-up takes twenty-four hours, where as it took minutes to pollute the entire' world. This is an excellent metaphor to leave students with after the groundwater demonstration. The fourth demonstration, mineral identification, allows for hands-on activity while reinforcing the process of scientific method. Students analyze basic minerals based on streak, hardness, cleavage, etc., often the first time they are exposed to such processes.
All four demonstrations can be specialized to fit any grade level. For example, younger students do scratch card activities, coloring pictures, etc. associated with fossils. Those in higher grades may receive a demonstration that goes more in depth about specific fossils or depositional processes. Students may receive crinoid stems or pieces of coal to take home; teachers receive these items as well to help build their classroom collection. Overall, Geo-Outreach puts more geology exposure into schools, and will hopefully become more wide spread as teacher and student interest grows.