Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 11:00 AM
WHAT'S A MOUNTAIN? CHALLENGES IN TEACHING GEOLOGY IN NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA
Elizabeth City State University serves mainly a 21 county region of the state’s northeastern Coastal Plain which has few natural rock outcrops. As such, many students entering ECSU have never seen a rock in its natural state and most have never visited a natural history museum where various rocks, minerals and fossils are on display. Some students state that they have never been outside of ECSU’s home county of Pasquotank in their entire lives, and have never seen a hill much less a mountain. Local high schools are mandated to provide an Earth Science course but are sorely lacking in geology teaching materials. Therefore most incoming students do not consider geology as a major due to a near total lack of exposure to it during their K-12 education. Also, a study by Porter and Rossbach (2003) revealed that one-quarter of responding high school Earth Science teachers in northeastern North Carolina had themselves never taken a college level Earth science or related course and one-quarter had taken only one or two courses.
To help address these concerns, the Geology program at ECSU is involved in innovative ways of expanding Earth science education. One method is through a grant that will offer summer activities and field trips for middle school students and will provide supplies to the schools so they can have their own teaching sets and better prepare their students for the required high school Earth science class. The University’s Department of Education has recently started a Comprehensive Science Education program with an Earth Science track. Prospective high school science teachers in the this track will take Physical Geology, Historical Geology, Hydrogeology, Geomorphology and Structural Geology to act as base courses to better prepare them to teach Earth science in their classrooms and foster student interest in pursuing geology in college.