Paper No. 15
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


TULLY, Jennifer L., Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science, Miami University, 501 East High Street, Oxford, OH 45056, BARRETT, Heather Ann, Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Sciences, Miami University, 501 East High St, Oxford, OH 45056, SIT, Stefany, Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science, Miami University, 250 S. Patterson Avenue, 114 Shideler Hall, Oxford, OH 45056 and KREKELER, Mark P.S., Department of Geology & Environmental Earth Science, Miami University-Hamilton, Hamilton, OH 45011,

Internationally, U.S. students are continually being outperformed in science and overall, scientific literacy within the nation is declining. To promote interest and a greater understanding of science, a group of three graduate students and one professor coordinated five visits to the Hamilton Central YMCA in southwestern Ohio. All visits were conducted during the YMCA’s summer outreach program, in the form of 2 hour sessions once a week. In 5 weeks, 36 different students attended with nearly half attending multiple sessions. The students ranged from 6-13 years of age, came from ethnically diverse backgrounds and many of low socioeconomic status. Every session began with a pre-assessment to determine each student’s previous knowledge base and experience as it tied into the activities and discussion topics of the day. Sessions covered a range of different themes from observational skills to renewable energy. While most sessions were based on different geologic principals, discussions occasionally extended to the other sciences. The goal was to develop and foster scientific literacy amongst the students, most of which would be considered minorities and highly underrepresented in the scientific disciplines. This lack of scientific literacy was seen in the pre-assessments and in the general questioning of the students during discussions. Students had difficulty answering questions relating to basic scientific concepts such as: the temperature at which water freezes and if light was a form of energy. In addition to expanding the students’ knowledge of scientific concepts, over the course of the 5 weeks a shift in mentality was observed through the responses on the pre-assessments. Students’ mindsets shifted from thinking that scientists only study facts at the initial session to “scientists find new facts”. Moreover initially there were 5 students who thought that scientists do not help people at all and by the last lesson no one chose that response. Multiple factors contribute to the decline of scientific literacy; however outreach programs can encourage scientific interests and also improve scientific knowledge in a broader community by presenting material in an exciting, understandable, and positive manner.