Southeastern Section - 64th Annual Meeting (19–20 March 2015)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


ROSSBACH, Thomas J. and SAN JUAN, Francisco C., Department of Natural Sciences, Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, NC 27909,

The geology of our solar system is becoming more common in geology curricula and builds upon knowledge from core courses such as historical geology, petrology, tectonics, and geomorphology. It is a way to introduce and get educators interested in geology because of the natural curiosity about other worlds. The Department of Natural Sciences at ECSU has launched several programs designed to familiarize local teachers with the geologic development of the rocky members of our solar system. The goal is to provide them with the knowledge and resources to inspire their students to pursue a career in geology.

Since 2006, ECSU has been working in conjunction with the North Carolina Space Grant Consortium to fulfill these goals. The initial outreach activity was a five-day summer workshop for area K-12 teachers that focused solely on the geology of Mars. This was designed to align with NASA’s plan of a manned mission to Mars by 2030. In 2010, the scope of the workshop changed to cover all the rocky bodies of the inner solar system and the origin of the asteroid belt to coincide with NASA missions to Mercury, Mars and the asteroids Ceres and Vesta. Teachers in these workshops were provided with Earth rock equivalents to Lunar and Martian rocks and other educational materials to bring back to their classrooms. After the local schools were served, the workshop recruited ECSU students in the education program and was held during the academic year. In 2014, the workshop changed to an online format with the addition of a module on exoplanets. To expand interest further, educational materials were provided to the ECSU planetarium and to Port Discover, the local hands-on science center. In another form of outreach, we have been funding undergraduate aerospace research in our Technology and Biology programs. Feedback from these programs has been very positive and may fulfill the stated goal of creating a gateway for the next generation of Earth and space explorers.