Southeastern Section - 68th Annual Meeting - 2019

Paper No. 21-2
Presentation Time: 2:05 PM


TORAN, Marta L., Deptartment of Geological & Environmental Sciences, Appalachian State University, ASU Box 32067, Boone, NC 28608, KLYCE, Annie, Deptartment of Geological & Environmental Sciences, Appalachian State University, 572 Rivers Street 033rsw, Rankin Hall West Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608-0001, YOKELEY, Brandon, Geological and Environmental Sciences, Appalachian State University, Appalachian State University, ASU Box 32067, Boone, NC 28608 and HECKERT, Andrew B., Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608

The Geobago was conceived with the aim of turning an abandoned RV into a mobile classroom for earth and environmental science education.

Our geology outreach efforts at the university have grown from sporadic programs, to an organized, department-wide effort reaching over 5000 people a year and involving all faculty members in the department and over twenty undergraduate students. There is a high demand for science outreach programs in rural regions like the Blue Ridge Mountains, where our university campus sits. This is mainly due to the lack of resources schools around this region have for quality science education and the geographic distance to science museums. Two issues we often come across in our role as outreach providers for the region, are lack of space to accommodate large, visiting school groups and being able to provide our services to groups that are not able to come to the our dedicated facilities on campus. The Geobago serves as an extension of our outreach programming that allows us to reach these rural K-12 schools and off the mountain communities that might not be able to bring their classes to our campus facilities due to lack of funding or other logistics.

The Geobago has been used successfully for school visits as part of Science Days, at after school environmental science club sessions, science museum events, professional geologist meetings and even at a Homecoming Parade. Activities inside the Geobago are interactive and aim to provide school kids and the general public an opportunity to explore geological concepts in an educational manner under the guidance of undergraduate geology students and faculty.

The inside of the vehicle is designed as a flexible lab space which can be set up according to the audience, topic of interest and nature of activities that the outreach event demands. Lab benches allow for microscope work, computer analysis of data, water quality tests and other hands-on activities such as sorting and casting fossils. A seating area towards the back of the vehicle allows staff to deliver mini-presentations or show video clips.

Converted RVs can provide not just outreach potential and solutions for working around geographic and space issues, but also excellent PR opportunities for sponsoring organizations and an opportunity to raise awareness of geology education around the region they travel.