2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 13-7
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


SEMKEN, Steven, School of Earth and Space Exploration and Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University, PO Box 871404, Tempe, AZ 85287-1404, BOS, Colette, Physical Sciences Division, Central Arizona College, 3736 E. Bella Vista Road, San Tan Valley, AZ 85143 and GARCIA, Angel A., School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, semken@asu.edu

The Copper Triangle mining area of Arizona typifies a geographic and demographic region not commonly served by programs to promote equity and diversity: a rural community with a population that is more than 50% underrepresented minorities and historically dependent on resource extraction. The future economics of this region and others like it will likely mix continued but higher-skilled mining activity, environmental remediation of expansive former mining sites, and gradual diversification into more sustainable but lower-revenue activities such as ecotourism. Workforce geoscience expertise and public geoscience literacy are needed here, but have long been in short supply. Our Copper Triangle Pilot Project (CTPP), funded by the National Science Foundation (GEO-1108044), is a proof-of-concept regional partnership among a university, community college, school districts, and local mining industry to develop research-based, sustainable pathways to pursue degrees and careers in Earth and environmental sciences for minority students (mostly Hispanic and Native American) in the Copper Triangle. CTPP has enabled the offering of free dual-enrollment college geoscience courses to high-school students from fall 2012 to the present, summer field and laboratory internships in 2013 and 2014, and professional development training in place-based Earth science education to in-service teachers and informal educators. Some CTPP graduates have gone on to advanced studies in Earth science and other STEM branches. Further, CTPP catalyzed robust communications and collaborations among all of the local and regional stakeholder organizations interested in promoting STEM education in the Copper Triangle. However, CTPP has also been hindered by teacher turnover in the partner schools and by low student enrollments owing to mining-industry slowdowns. We have documented and will present recommendations for effective educational outreach to underserved rural communities, while recognizing that some key socioeconomic factors are beyond the control of local partnerships.