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

“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.