Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 9:20 AM
EXPLORING GEOSCIENCE PARTICIPATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR ELEMENTARY-AGED UNDERREPRESENTED STUDENTS: LESSON LEARNED FROM A 2-YEAR PROJECT
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) opportunities for elementary-aged underrepresented students are often limited. Denver, Dinosaurs, and Climate Change (D2C2) is a two-year project, funded by the National Science Foundation, specifically aimed to provide positive experiences related to specific topics in geosciences. The project team included professionals in geology and soil science, in addition to a science educator and mathematics educator. STEM professionals in geology and soil science led field-based lessons in their disciplines. We recruited children ages eight to twelve (belonging to underrepresented groups) by working with two African-American churches and a Latino church. By working closely with pastors from these three churches, third- through sixth-grade students were recruited and multi-aged learning opportunities were provided within the context of place-based science education. We also recruited near peer mentors (high school and early college students) to serve as interns who provided mentorship and leadership in this project. The project goals included: 1) enhancing elementary-aged students’ familiarity and ease with topics related to paleontology and climate change and 2) impacting STEM attitudes among the near peer mentors. Data were collected using pre- and posttests, surveys, field observations, and individual and group interviews with study participants and near peers. Preliminary data analyses indicated that both elementary-aged students and near peers demonstrated positive experiences with project activities and toward STEM. This paper session will share additional findings using these data sources (including qualitative data) to document the impact of project activities as well as lessons learned from implementation during the past two years.