2009 Portland GSA Annual Meeting (18-21 October 2009)

Paper No. 15
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM


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

High Schools hold the key to enticing students into Earth Science. Unfortunately, high schools are not using that key. Most high schools offer Biology, Chemistry and Physics to their college-bound students, while they offer a low-level Earth Science course to their least capable middle-school students. Top science students choose Advanced Placement courses, but since there is no AP in Earth Science, these students are unlikely to have any exposure to the Earth Science at all in their high-school career. As a result, they are unlikely to enroll in Earth Science classes in college or pursue a career in Earth Science.

Harvard-Westlake School has collaborated with UCLA to create a college-level Earth Science course for which high-school students receive college credit. It is a rigorous course designed for college-bound students and, unlike most California Earth Science courses, it receives lab status from the University of California system. Students not only receive honors credit, which increases their grade-point average, but they also receive 5 quarter units on a UCLA transcript, which is transferable to most universities.

Benefits of the collaboration include an exchange of teaching tools among members of the collaborating organizations, as well as development of a group of students who are more likely to enroll in Earth Science classes in college Not only do students pay tuition to the collaborating university, but they are more likely to apply to admission to a school at which they have already earned credit. Best of all, students enrolled in this course will become Earth Science literate, an achievement too rarely attained by today’s high-school students.