Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM
ENHANCING DIVERSITY IN THE GEOSCIENCES THROUGH FOSTERING IMPROVED EARTH SCIENCE EDUCATION IN URBAN CHARTER SCHOOLS: PLANNING A KIPP SCHOOL-UNIVERSITY-MUSEUM PARTNERSHIP
Research indicates that enhancing diversity in the geosciences involves commitment to supporting individuals from underrepresented minorities from early college years into professional careers. By what means, however, can we substantially increase the pool of individuals who consider geosciences as a career as they enter college? One means may be to work with large numbers of minority students in school environments in which college enrollment is fostered and good science pedagogy is valued. The national network of KIPP charter schools, which serves over 50,000 students, 95% of whom are African-American or Latino, offers one potential model: to date 93% of students completing eighth grade at KIPP schools (most of which are middle schools) graduated from high school, and over 83% have gone on to college. While KIPP schools have an excellent record of increasing academic achievement in reading and math, however, they have focused less on inquiry-based science education. Helping KIPP schools to improve learning experiences in Earth science may be a fruitful means to increase interest in geosciences at the college level, among large numbers of committed college-bound students from underrepresented minorities.
The Paleontological Research Institution, in partnership with Cornell University and several 8th grade Earth science teachers in KIPP schools in New York City, explored the potential for a partnership intended to help teachers offer compelling and effective Earth science education. Discussions with KIPP teachers and other stake holders helped determine a set of pedagogical approaches that could be pursued in KIPP schools that could potentially, as a long-term outcome, increase diversity in the geosciences. The planning process included helping host KIPP NYC middle school students in Ithaca, NY, through tours of the Cornell campus, geological exploration of Finger Lakes State Parks, and activities in PRI's Museum of the Earth. NYC-based activities focused upon integrating use of local urban parks and virtual fieldwork experiences (VFEs) into Earth science curricula. Among the greatest challenges to working closely with KIPP schools long-term is early career teacher overturn and scheduling commitments among KIPP teachers. This work was supported by NSF 0939765.