2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)
Paper No. 210-10
Presentation Time: 4:30 PM-4:45 PM

FOSTERING SCIENTIFIC ENTHUSIASM IN YOUNG WOMEN (AND THEIR MENTORS) THROUGH EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING

MASON, Stephanie N.1, SUSSMAN, Aviva1, and SCHULTZ-FELLENZ, Emily S.2, (1) Dept. Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of New Mexico, MSC 03 2040, Albuquerque, NM 87131, mason@unm.edu, (2) Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, MS D452, Los Alamos, NM 87545

Working as partners through a grant from the Earthwatch Institute’s Student Challenge Awards Program, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and a graduate student from the University of New Mexico incorporate high-school students in active scientific research. The all-female team of principal investigators/mentors has led three expeditions in the last year; all students participants have been women with 46% of students representing ethnic minorities.

The experiential learning environment associated with the “Tectonics and Volcanism in the Rio Grande Rift” Earthwatch expeditions provide young women with tangible research experiences aimed at solving real-world problems. The interactive nature of geologic fieldwork and laboratory analyses serves as an effective teaching tool such that the young women live the science they usually only read about in esoteric, theoretical terms within typical high school classrooms. With an all-female mentor roster, any unconscious gender bias present within coeducational systems can be removed; thus, the young women students focus on the exciting data collection, suspenseful data analyses, and stimulating research results. In this setting, the students learn that science is inspiring, and the experience has motivated some expedition participants to continue education in the geosciences following high school. Furthermore, working with the Earthwatch expeditions and teaching students has particularly reinvigorated the LANL research staff. The expeditions simultaneously recruit young women and underrepresented minorities into the geosciences while retaining women already engaged in geoscience as a career.

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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