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

Paper No. 60-5
Presentation Time: 2:35 PM


BARRETT, Kirk, Manhattan College, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 4315 Manhattan College Parkway, Riverdale, NY 10471 and MOORE, Kevin, CityFood Resources L3C, Somerset, NJ 08873, kirk.barrett@manhattan.edu

The goal was to increase awareness of and interest in geoscience and geoscience careers among African and Hispanic American students in high-performing high schools. We focused on schools in northeastern New Jersey that 1) had significant minority populations, 2) already offered geoscience courses, and 3) had high go-to-college rates. We chose to work with schools at which most students attend college because the goal of convincing the students to pursue a degree in geoscience would be more achievable relative to schools with low go-to-college rates.

The project combined a variety of activities focused on environmental geoscience that reinforced and built on each other to achieve the goal. First, self-selected science teachers from the schools participated in a professional development workshop to learn geoscience concepts that were embodied in field trips that they (and, later, their students) took, and they learned how to incorporate these concepts into their curriculum.

Activates for students emphasized field experiences. In field trips, students visited geoenvironmental-related sites like a large waterfall and ocean beaches and performed fun, hands-on, inquiry-based investigations about issues important to society, such as hydropower and beach erosion. Students also participated in a "citizen scientist"-type water quality monitoring program using a water body near their school, and they convened annually at a local university to share their results. Ten students were invited to participate in a month-long, geoscience-related, summer internship at a university or government agency.

Students were surveyed after each field trip, with majorities indicating an increased knowledge and interest in geoscience.

Lessons learned from the program include that it was impractical to use before vs. after surveys for evaluation for a multi-faceted, months-long, school-based program because it was impossible to determine exactly which or how many aspects of the program each survey respondent participated in. Also, the project was not sustainable without on-going instructional support to the teachers and external funding for field trips. For the project components to become institutionalized within the school would likely require greater advocacy than by a single K-12 teacher or a university professor.