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

Paper No. 13-2
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM


SCHMIDT, Richard W., Science Department, Upper Dublin High School, 800 Loch Alsh Ave, Fort Washington, PA 19034 and HELMKE, Martin, Department of Geology and Astronomy, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, 207 Merion Science Center, West Chester, PA 19383, rschmidt@udsd.org

With approximately fifty percent of the nation’s geoscience workforce within ten to fifteen years of retirement, America must face the very real problem of replacing its aging workforce with talented and energetic young geoscientists. However, while post secondary institutions continue to rely on attracting students after they become undergraduates and from transfers within their university or college setting, studies indicate that most matriculating undergraduates already have at least some idea of their initial career path in mind well before they complete high school. This translates to a potentially devastating impact on the number of students considering the field in an academic setting where no more than 25% of all high school students ever complete geoscience curricula at all. What is holding us back? How do we overcome the obstacles that keep us from increasing the size of the geoscience workforce pipeline even before students leave high school?

Understanding the blocking forces at both the K-12 and post secondary levels is vital to establishing long lasting dual enrollment agreements in a playing field dominated by science courses approved by the College Board. From basic staffing and budget to prestige, labor union concerns and state laws, the forces arrayed against a new way of approaching geoscience education can be daunting. However, grassroots partnerships between enterprising secondary and post secondary educators have taken hold in widely scattered school systems around the U.S. with quantifiable success and higher education institutions are beginning to realize the value these partnerships can bring in recruiting first-year geology majors. In this session, we will identify the chief issues facing dual enrollment agreements in the geosciences and discuss how to overcome them using established programs as models for success.