Exposing Students to Climate Science via HBCU Service Learning Outreach

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014: 3:30 PM
Room C109 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
David A. Padgett, Tennessee State Univ., Nashville, TN

Handout (2.6 MB)

The course, Weather and Climate (GEOG 3500), is taught each fall and summer at Tennessee State University (TSU), an Historically Black College and University (HBCU) hosting a total enrollment of approximately 9,200 students. The course is supported by content from the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Climate Studies Geosciences Diversity/National Dissemination Project (http://www.ametsoc.org/amsedu/login.cfm). With community outreach being an HBCU tradition, official service learning course designation is added as a strategy to recruit students. Among the primary objectives is to expose underrepresented students from many academic disciplines and backgrounds to climate science.

Tennessee State University students enrolled in GEOG 3500 engage in service learning outreach by developing and presenting detailed lessons on extreme weather hazards and climate change for students at Pearl-Cohn High School and Stratford STEM Magnet High School in Nashville, Tennessee. Both schools‘ enrollment is approximately 90 percent from underrepresented groups. The lessons are derived from the Association of American Geographers (AAG) My Community, Our Earth Program (http://www.aag.org/mycoe). At Pearl-Cohn, students work through the “Investigating Hazards” activity. The lesson is augmented with GIS data layers including local floodplain elevations and historic tornado locations. At Stratford, students work through the “Comparing Ecological Footprints Activity” focusing upon urban heat island effects. The lesson is augmented with a Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) (www.globe.gov) Atmosphere Protocol outdoor activity including hands-on geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and remote sensing experience. Students also analyze real-time atmospheric data collected from the school's newly installed WeatherBug Weather Station.

The project is supported by funding from the State Farm Good Neighbor Service Learning Grant Program ($15,000.00), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) HBCU Grant Program ($10,000.00), and the GLOBE Teacher Workshop on Climate Grant Program ($3,380.00). Funds support program objectives for exposing predominantly African American and low-income high school students to climate science and geospatial technology. Funds also support GLOBE Certification for pre-service teachers enrolled in the GEOG 3500 course.

Given the demographics of TSU's student body, a significant portion of the course focuses upon inner-city populations' preparedness for, and response to, weather-related hazards. Students are exposed to GIS-based research related to hazard vulnerability assessment of low-income and people of color communities.

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