Southeastern Section - 60th Annual Meeting (23–25 March 2011)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:20 AM


FUERST, Sam I.1, ROBERTS, Joshua1 and FUERST, Rebekah2, (1)Northern High School, 117 Tom Wilkinson Road, Durham, NC 27712, (2)Hopkinton Middle School, 89 Hayden Row Road, Hopkinton, MA 01746,

Earth Science education has been required for graduation in North Carolina High Schools since the year 2000. According to the American Geological Institute, as of 2007, North Carolina is the only state with this requirement. The last decade has met with mixed results in the implementation of teaching earth science in all high schools. Nearly half of all teachers statewide who are teaching earth science are labeled as not being highly qualified. Another problem has arisen in that the Advance Placement Environmental Science Course also qualifies for the graduation requirement. This course offers very little real geological content. As a result, many of our strongest students still graduate with little knowledge of geology.

As it now stands, even in a state with an earth science graduation requirement, most of our college-bound students enter the introductory geology course with limited background. This is a result of both the lack of teacher training and the AP Environmental curriculum. The state Earth/Environmental Science Curriculum, due to go into effect in 2012, minimizes geology even further with increased focus on the environment.

Teachers need training to make the course hands/on science and not worksheet driven. It will take a committed effort to enable them to teach complex subject material at an appropriate level while maintaining the integrity of the discipline. Many of our currently qualified teachers, who have geological backgrounds, are accomplishing wonderful things across the state. If we can increase their numbers, we can increase the number of geology majors at the college level.