Southeastern Section - 61st Annual Meeting (1–2 April 2012)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 1:50 PM


FUERST, Rebekah1, FUERST, Sam I.2 and ROBERTS, Joshua2, (1)Hopkinton Middle School, 89 Hayden Row Road, Hopkinton, MA 01746, (2)Northern High School, 117 Tom Wilkinson Road, Durham, NC 27712,

Earth Science education has been required for graduation in North Carolina High Schools since the year 2000. According to the American Geological Institute, as of 2007, North Carolina is the only state with this requirement. The last decade has met with mixed results in the implementation of teaching earth science in all high schools. Nearly half of all teachers statewide who are teaching earth science are labeled as not being highly qualified. Another problem has arisen in that the Advance Placement Environmental Science Course also qualifies for the graduation requirement. This course offers very little real geological content. As a result, many of our strongest students still graduate with little knowledge of geology.

As it now stands, even in a state with an earth science graduation requirement, most of our college-bound students enter the introductory geology course with limited background. This is a result of both the lack of teacher training and the AP Environmental curriculum. The state Earth/Environmental Science Curriculum, due to go into effect in 2012, minimizes geology even further with increased focus on the environment.

The need for geology majors in the future will increase with our growing need for energy and enviromental stewardship in an era of global climate change. We have surveyed and interviewed students from North Carolina Universities and former students of ours who have pursued Earth Science degrees in order to determine what factors from their high school experience may have had a role in their choosing geoscience education and future careers. If we can understand what encourages students in high school to become future geology majors, then perhaps we can duplicate these factors and improve the future of earth science education.