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

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 2:10 PM


HARRIS, Randa R., Geosciences, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA 30118,

Earth Science education is suffering. Students often come to college unprepared for the material covered in introductory geology courses, and it seems as if this problem has increased over recent years. For the Fall semester, 2010, 25% of my 57 physical geology laboratory students received either a D or an F. While poor attendance and a lack of study habits contribute to this problem, it also seems that students lack a basic understanding of earth science in general. Many science teachers in K-12 teaching earth science have not been trained extensively in it and are often faced with the daunting task of teaching challenging material without the proper background. The geosciences community can help. In an effort to improve both teacher knowledge and student performance in geology, several different types of outreach were conducted, including teacher workshops, school visits, and Globe program training.

Working with the IMPACT program (Improving Motivation, Performance, and Attitudes of Children and Teachers) at the University of West Georgia, I conducted a teacher workshop covering general Georgia geology and soils. This workshop included powerpoint materials that were made available to the teachers and demonstrations of hands on soil activities that they could conduct with their students cheaply and easily on school grounds. With the help of Geosciences majors over Fall semester, earth science demonstrations were given at 4 schools, reaching ~375 students. Demonstrations included rocks and minerals, fossils, faults, plate tectonics, and the use of a well received stormwater floodplain simulation. The stormwater simulation was especially beneficial when used in a community that had received a 500 year storm event that resulted in major flooding in the previous year. The Globe program (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is a worldwide hands-on program that encourages teachers to lead their students in inquiry based investigations of the environment. Teachers from a local school were trained in the Globe techniques for atmosphere and hydrology. Students collect local data, and Globe requires the use of specific protocols when students collect measurements. Those trained teachers are actively using Globe in their schools, having recorded 897 data points to date.

  • RHarrisEdTalkSEGSA11.ppt.pptx (9.8 MB)