EXTENDING ADVANCED GEOSCIENCES TO HIGH SCHOOLS VIA ONLINE PROGRAMS AND UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIPS
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.