2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 152-6
Presentation Time: 3:00 PM


ABOLINS, Mark, Department of Geosciences, Middle Tennessee State University, Box 9, Murfreesboro, TN 37132, Mark.Abolins@mtsu.edu

“Geoenvironmental Challenges in the Southeastern United States” is the National Science Foundation (NSF) Geosciences Directorate’s first Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) designed specifically for pre-service middle school and high school STEM teachers. During each of the summers of 2013, 2014, and 2015, five pre-service Earth science teachers, three pre-service chemistry teachers, and two pre-service biology teachers are participating in a nine-week undergraduate research experience. To serve the perceived needs of these pre-service teachers, the project design included five features not typically found in a NSF REU. First, to foster an interdisciplinary community, the experience would begin with a five-day field trip to Mammoth Cave and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. Second, although each pre-service teacher would spend most of his or her time engaging in research within one discipline-specific investigation (e.g., structural geology), each pre-service teacher would also spend two days participating in each of the other four investigations (water quality, pavement systems, air quality, and plant ecology). Third, the pre-service teachers would participate in three one-day field trips involving visits to scientific institutions and field sites. Fourth, the pre-service teachers would develop two education modules over the course of the three-year project. Fifth, the pre-service teachers would observe the implementation of innovative curricula (e.g., a draft version of the NSF InTeGrate mineral module) in a university general studies Earth science classroom. During 2013, the five-day field trip happened and the pre-service teachers observed the classroom. However, evaluator Dr. Tom Cheatham collected formative evaluation results at the approximate mid-point of the experience, and these results showed that many of the pre-service teachers wanted to spend more time on their own research investigations as opposed to participating more in other investigations or going on more one-day field trips. Consequently, the principal investigator (Abolins) and co-principal investigator (Dr. Heather Brown) curtailed the other features at the mid-point.