Paper No. 14
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


BURKE, Amanda R., Geology & Environmental Earth Science, Miami University - Hamilton, Hamilton, OH 45011, KREKELER, Mark P.S., Department of Geology & Environmental Earth Science, Miami University-Hamilton, Hamilton, OH 45011 and BOWER, Amber M., Middle Childhood Education, Miami University - Hamilton, Oxford, OH 45056,

This project was a once a week program run over a 6-week period, to educate the children about different concepts of science and different areas of study, with a main focus on geology at the Hamilton Central YMCA, Butler County Ohio. There was significant variation of participating students (n=12-24), as well as variations in gender and demographics, although African-American males comprised the dominant student population. Ages of children ranged from 5 to 12.

Problems encountered included attention span, retention of information, and the desire to learn something simply for the knowledge. The age range made it challenging to find activities and construct power point presentations that were suitable. Children had the option to not participate, and many of the older kids opted out. With a young audience, attention wanders but focus for some presentations was observed for 20 to 30 minutes. YMCA employees assisted in managing the students so attention spans lasted longer than expected. The time slot of the program, 3:00pm-5:00pm, was considered problematic owing to competing with outdoor activities. Information retention was an issue because of the age group and accordingly, the attention span. Many of the older kids who participated retained more information than the younger and more distracted children. This lack of retention was made clear by questions at the end of the day about the information covered.

Prizes in the form of “give-aways” of rock and mineral samples, as well as small books for reading were popular and motivated learning with the entire age range. We found that when there is a prize, there is more initiative to attempt to answer questions and some level of competitiveness arises at times. Hands-on activities were more accepted by a broader range of students and were a major success. Powerpoint presentations were effective if they were brief and were connected to the student’s previous exposure to geology. Staff of the YMCA interfaced very well with our group and there was a high degree of cooperation. Key staff members assisted in managing the children, problems solving with respect to logistics and also served as examples by being interested in the demonstrations being presented. The structure and organization of this program provides a model for similar approaches for outreach education in a number of settings.