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

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 3:50 PM


THOMAS, Christopher W., Distance Education and Extended Programs, North Carolina School of Science and Math, 1219 Broad St, PO Box 2418, Durham, NC 27715,

This session presents one model for offering college-level earth science courses to a cohort of 11th/12th grade students within a statewide e-learning program based at the flagship high school of the University of North Carolina (UNC) system. Expanding University online programs and K-12 virtual schools, early colleges, and university K-12 partnerships allow talented high school students to take college-level courses at the pre-college stage. As these programs grow, developing earth science offerings within them is critical to competitively retain and recruit talented and/or STEM-focused students into earth sciences majors/minors upon entering college.

The North Carolina School of Science and Math (NCSSM), a UNC constituent institution, was the nation's first public, statewide boarding school for select highest achieving11th/12th grade students. Its e-learning program, NCSSM Online, extends the school virtually into local communities with a supplemental application-based 2-year program that offers advanced STEM courses and additional academic opportunities to a cohort of talented students. Other online schools or programs either offer a la carte courses to the general high school population for college or high school credit; or via restricted programs permit gifted students to take university courses with university students. The NCSSM Online model emphasizes learning communities, unique courses, and a curriculum customized to challenge and nurture talented but maturing students.

"Green Environmental Geology" and "Intro to the Research Experience: Climate Change" are two earth science courses among 18 STEM focused program offerings. Green Environmental Geology, modified from a version originally developed and taught at Indiana University-IUPUI, follows a college syllabus, pacing, and textbook (Keller-Pearson Education), but with enhanced assessments typical of a small college program. The course unites readings with instructor created modules that use video, interactive media, images, and case studies. Students complete a literature-based research project/fact sheet and team projects; must participate in an evening, hour-long weekly interactive web-video conference; and stay on the campus for one weekend of laboratory and field activities, academic supplements, and team-building activities.

  • GSA Wilmington 2011.pdf (2.8 MB)