Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM


BLICKSTEIN, Joel1, BLACKWELL, Bonnie A.B.2, SKINNER, Anne R.3 and MONTOYA, Andrés1, (1)RFK Science Research Institute, Box 866, Glenwood Landing, NY 11547-0866, (2)Department of Chemistry, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267, (3)Department of Chemistry, Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267-2692,

Many highschool students profess a great interest in geology, archaeology and paleoanthropology, yet few ever have the chance to perform such research. NYC social studies and science curricula largely ignore paleoarchaeological and Quaternary events. The RFK Science Research Institute allows students to participate in university-level research, while reigniting or reinforcing their fervour for geology, archaeology, and other sciences. For 20 years, the institute has trained 4-10 highschool students annually to ESR date mammalian teeth, molluscs, corals, barnacles, foraminifera, fluvial quartz collected from Quaternary sites around the world. Supervised by, and working in collaboration with, a team of four scientists and 1-4 technicians, each student is responsible for preparing samples for ESR and NAA, measuring the ESR spectra, and calculating the ages from "their site". The results might date Mousterian, Acheulean, or Oldowon material, Neanderthals, Australopithecines, or other early hominids, coral reefs, dune sequences, uplifted shorelines, landslides, tectonic events, periods of water availability in deserts, or events for building sealevel curves. Seniors often develop new geochemical or geoarchaeological analytical techniques. Students also prepare and present papers for scientific conferences and publications. They also present their work at local schools, science fairs, and competitions. Since ESR sample preparation is labour-intensive, but requires meticulous attention to detail to ensure accuracy, students average between 500-1200 hours/year working on their projects. After graduation, students often return as senior technicians and trainers. Although involving highschool students requires more of the scientific team's time in training and in guiding students through the scientific writing process than would occur with graduate students, the highschool students learn all research process phases. The institute mainly trains students from underrepresented and low-income groups, with more than half being women, Hispanics, and African Americans. Many graduates have completed science, engineering, dental, or medical degrees. Several have obtained their current jobs thanks to their institute training in geology, archaeology, and science research.