2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)
Paper No. 210-9
Presentation Time: 4:15 PM-4:30 PM

GeoFORCE TEXAS: A GEOSCIENCE OUTREACH PROGRAM CHANGING THE LIVES OF LATINO AND AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDENTS IN GRADES 8-12 FROM RURAL AND URBAN TEXAS

HORTON, Danielle A., Jackson School of Geoscience, The University of Texas at Austin, PO Box B, University Station, Austin, TX 78713-8902, dhorton@jsg.utexas.edu and RATCLIFF, Douglas C., Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, PO Box B, University Station, Austin, TX 78713-8902

GeoFORCE Texas is a geoscience-based summer outreach program targeting high school honor students from Houston and rural southwest Texas who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM careers. The program is sponsored by energy companies and government agencies, with instructional support provided by geoscientists from the University of Texas at Austin. GeoFORCE recruits students who are representative of the two focus regions: students from southwest Texas are 85% Latino; Houston students are 41% African American, 40% Latino, and 13% Asian. Greater than 65% of the families in our program are economically disadvantaged. The average graduation rate in these areas is 61% in southwest Texas and 43% in Houston. In fall 2009, the first cohort of students to complete the program will enter college and give some insights on the success of GeoFORCE in attracting students to STEM careers.

Students are recruited in 8th grade, attend their first field trip the summer before 9th grade, and participate in a different trip each summer over four consecutive years. GeoFORCE activities include 8 different geological field trips (2 to 7 days long), including the Grand Canyon, Cascade Mountains, modern Florida carbonates, and USGS headquarters in Virginia. During the school year, GeoFORCE provides an SAT preparation course, workshops on the college application and financial aid process, and information on careers in geoscience and engineering. GeoFORCE is designed to engage large numbers of students, with over 500 students participating in summer 2009.

The goals of GeoFORCE are four-fold: 1) to expose large numbers of grade 8-12 students to geoscience and geoscience careers at a time when student interest in science typically wanes, 2) to promote successful completion of high school, 3) to facilitate college application and attendance, and 4) to encourage students to pursue college studies and careers in science. GeoFORCE has just completed its fifth summer of activities, and the initial cohort of students graduated from high school in May 2009. The following evidence shows the GeoFORCE program has made an impact on students: 1) of the 80 students in the initial cohort from southwest Texas, 100% graduated from high school; 2) 90% have been admitted to college and of those, 59% plan to major in science or math and 15% plan to major in geoscience.

2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 210
Techniques and Tools for Effective Recruitment, Retention and Promotion of Women and Minorities in the Geosciences
Oregon Convention Center: B117/118/119
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 41, No. 7, p. 539

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