GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 187-12
Presentation Time: 11:05 AM


LEWIS, Jonathan, Geoscience, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA 15705, COOPER, Sharon, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, 61 Route 9W, Palisades, NY 10964, ALBERTS, Jon, University National Oceanography Laboratories System, Graduate School of Oceanography/URI, Box 32, 215 South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI 02882 and THOMSON, Karen, Independent Consultant, 171 Clermont Ave, #3C, Brooklyn, NY 11205,

The U.S. faces challenges in attracting, retaining and diversifying the workforce in STEM fields; in the geosciences the situation is acute. To help address these issues, this team built the 1-year, proof-of-concept STEM Student Experiences Aboard Ships (STEMSEAS) project in response to the NSF GEOPATHS solicitation. STEMSEAS provides undergraduate students with transformative experiences aboard charismatic research vessels by leveraging federally funded assets. First, STEMSEAS takes advantage of unused berths on University National Oceanographic Laboratories System (UNOLS) ships during transits. In so doing we are building new relationships with ship operators that are keen to support education and outreach, but that have limited resources to operate such a program alone. Second, we are tapping into a network of educators and scientists that have participated in Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (and its successor) science and education programs. These contributors have in many cases been part of the School of Rock program, which uses the JOIDES Resolution(JR) as a platform for high-impact teacher training. The UNOLS fleet, consisting of 17 U.S.-based vessels and operated by numerous universities and research institutes with support from federal funds, offers numerous similar opportunities and was the logical asset to leverage. Indeed, because UNOLS vessels are commonly operating in U.S. waters and transits are relatively frequent, STEMSEAS scheduled 3 transits on 3 different vessels this initial year. This year we had nearly 900 applications for 30 spots, suggesting that there is significant interest and a huge potential for impact. The program takes advantage of ship capabilities wherever possible, and leverages existing instructional resources so that our mentors can cater content based on their expertise. We aim to tie content to specific ship tracks whenever possible. Our programming prioritizes: (1) exposure to the scientific method; (2) career exploration; (3) personal reflection; (4) professional practices (e.g., field books); (5) providing research opportunities built on data collected during the transits; and (6) reporting back in stages, first to the cohort via webinar, and then to the audience of their choice back in their home or school communities.