2.2 Promoting the Geosciences among Middle and High School Students in the Urban Coastal Environment of New York City

Monday, 7 January 2013: 1:45 PM
Room 13AB (Austin Convention Center)
Reginald Blake, New York City College of Technology, City University of New York, Brooklyn, NY; and J. Liou-Mark

According to the Status of the Geoscience Workforce 2011 report, the trends over the past 18 years show that only 11% -15% of seventh and eighth graders formally take a year of Earth Science. This low percentage is due to the integration of Earth Science components in the general science curriculum, thus partially fulfilling the Earth Science requirement. The report also showed that only a few K-8 teachers between 1993 and 2006 have geoscience degrees. Teachers most commonly possess a degree in the social sciences or non-science and engineering fields.

The “Creating and Sustaining Diversity in the Geo-Sciences among Students and Teachers in the Urban Coastal Environment of New York City” project was recently awarded to New York City College of Technology (City Tech) by the National Science Foundation to promote the geosciences for students in grades 6-12, especially for those who are underrepresented minorities in STEM. This project: 1) provided inquiry-oriented geoscience experiences (pedagogical and research) for students; 2) provided standards-based professional development (pedagogical and research) in Earth Science for teachers from three separate middle and high schools of the New York City public school system; 3) developed teachers' inquiry-oriented and place-based instructional techniques; 4) assisted teachers with improving their existing curricula to meet the specific needs of their school district; 5) increased teacher content knowledge and confidence in working with Earth science scholars; 6) improved teacher skills in synthesizing and transforming their knowledge to be used in the classroom; 7) engaged and intrigued students in the application of geoscience activities in a virtual environment; 8) provided peer-assisted math foundations that will underpin and elucidate geoscience concepts; and 9) created community-based geoscience outreach activities.

Exposure trips to the Brookhaven National Laboratory, NOAA-CREST at the City College of New York, and NASA/GISS at Columbia University have provided middle and high school underrepresented minority students an opportunity to visit scientists at work. Programs provided by these institutions have increased students' interest and awareness of the geosciences.

To promote inquiry and engagement, Second Life, a 3D online virtual world created by its residents, was used to explore geoscience concepts. Using an online system created and supported a sense of community that keeps students engaged in learning. Participating students explored mountain weather and sea breeze patterns with their classmates. These geosciences modules were created by a team consisting of a geoscience faculty, post doctorate scientist, technical writing specialist, learning specialist, mathematics educator, and two high school science teachers. Completing modules and problem-based activities in Second Life have helped students build a community of practice around the geosciences. Modules on Natural Disasters and Biomes are under construction.

In addition, the project provided two teams - each team comprising of a high school teacher and a high school student - to participate in the New York City Research Institute program at NASA/GISS Columbia University. The teams spent summer 2012 working with research scientists on geoscience research projects.

The program's objectives were accomplished by establishing geoscience partnerships and activities between City Tech, City College of New York, Middle School 394 in Brooklyn, City Polytechnic High School, the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women, NOAA-CREST, the New York City Research Institute program at NASA/GISS Columbia University, and the Brookhaven National Laboratory. The activities combined geoscience research experiences with a robust learning community that have produced holistic and engaging stimuli for the scientific and academic growth and development of grades 6 – 12 student and teacher participants. (This program is supported by NSF OEDG grant #1108281.)

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