8.4 Introducing and Engaging Non-Geoscience, Minority STEM Majors in Geoscience Research – An Interdisciplinary Approach

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 11:15 AM
Room 353 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Dr Reginald Blake, New York City College of Technology, Brooklyn, NY; and J. Liou-Mark

Participation of underrepresented minority students in the geosciences remains dismally poor. Even with many theoretical, tested, and proven best practice frameworks available, educators and institutions of learning (particularly at the undergraduate level) yet struggle to devise practical, sustainable solutions to this dilemma. A dilemma for which the national implications – from the future geoscience work force to a plethora of diversity issues – are dire in both scope and consequence, affecting even national security. To aid in ameliorating this plight, an innovative National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in satellite and ground—based remote sensing was designed to recruit, equip, expose, and provide rich geoscience research experiences for minority STEM majors from a variety of non-geoscience disciplines. In authentic interdisciplinary mode, the academic year-long REU program, integrated and enhanced the students' prior STEM knowledge with the skills and competencies (critical thinking and problem-solving skills, spatial and temporal abilities, strong quantitative skills, and the ability to work in teams) necessary for geoscience research. These non-geoscience majors learned enough to conduct and present remote sensing research on the earth's complex sub-systems of the cryosphere, the atmosphere, the lithosphere, the biosphere, and the hydrosphere. Some students co-authored peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters with their mentors while others have won top awards at national, regional, and local conferences. Summative results indicate that the geoscience research experiences increased the students' understanding of the relevancy of their interdisciplinary study to society, and many of them have continued on to graduate school with the intent to persist in applying their STEM knowledge and background to the geosciences.
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