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

Paper No. 216-6
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


THEUERKAUF, Ethan J.1, RIDGE, Justin T.2, HEENEHAN, Heather L.3, LARKIN, Alyse A.3 and PAXTON, Avery B.2, (1)Institute of Marine Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 3431 Arendell Street, Morehead City, NC 28557, (2)Institute of Marine Sciences, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 3431 Arendell Street, Morehead City, NC 28557, (3)Duke University Marine Laboratory, Beaufort, NC 28516, ejtheu@email.unc.edu

Connecting students with cutting-edge research in the geosciences and other STEM fields helps them become engaged and passionate about science. It can be challenging for K-12 educators to expose students to the latest scientific research given limited resources and strict requirements of educational standards. Scientists, however, have resources based on their research that can enhance STEM education, but often have difficulty translating their work for the K-12 classroom and establishing contact with educators. Bridging the gap between scientists, educators, and students was the main purpose for the development of the Scientific Research and Education Network (SciREN), which started in a coastal North Carolina community where 4 major research institutions were generating high-impact science with minimal outreach to the community. SciREN is a graduate-student-led organization instructing scientists in curriculum development based on their research and conducting annual workshops where these resources are shared with educators. Teachers also network with scientists interested in sharing their research and career experience in the classroom.

After four SciREN workshops connecting, in total, over 400 teachers and 200 scientists, we wanted to assess whether this effort has enhanced STEM education in the community. Specifically, we wanted to examine if these resources help teachers connect students with the concepts they are required to teach and if having a scientist visit improves student attitudes and knowledge about science. We explored these questions by conducting a broad survey of workshop attendees to determine if participation in this network has enhanced their curriculum, as well as a more targeted survey of teachers who hosted us in their classroom to deliver a lesson on coastal geology and discuss geoscience careers. Preliminary results indicate that these resources have improved curricula by connecting scientific concepts to local research. Additionally, the opportunity for educators to communicate face-to-face with scientists, as well as having scientists visit their classroom, provides context for these resources. The success of this network suggests that this model could be more broadly employed to facilitate outreach in other locations.

  • SciREN_GSA.pdf (18.4 MB)