8.6 Partnering for Diversity: A Year-Round Experiential Learning Project to Engage Community College Students in the Geosciences

Wednesday, 25 January 2017: 11:45 AM
308 (Washington State Convention Center )
Marianne Smith, Citrus College, Glendora, CA; and V. Sloan and L. M. Barge

Student attrition from STEM majors most often occurs in the first or second year of college. To retain these students in STEM pathways, especially underrepresented minority students who are largely enrolled in community colleges, it is critical to provide hands-on experiences and exposure to STEM occupations in a supportive community well before decisions about transfer and transfer major are made.  

     Funded by the National Science Foundation IUSE program the Bridge to the Geosciences for Community College Students project formally partners Citrus College, a Hispanic-serving two-year public community college in NE Los Angeles county, with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) to provide students with year-round, extra-curricular experiences involving exposure to a broad range of geoscience research, mentoring, education and career advice, community-building and networking. Over the course of an academic year, project students participate in four distinct “geomodules” organized around the planetary, atmospheric, ocean, and environmental sciences and spend time with scientists at: (1) the Oak Crest Institute of Science, a chemistry research and diversity-oriented education organization in Monrovia, CA; (2) the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a NASA field center in Pasadena, CA; (3) the University of Southern California’s Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Catalina Island, CA; and (4) the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder, CO.  A peak experience of the program is a ten-day mini-internship in Colorado where students are immersed in atmospheric research, training, and fieldwork. Professional development, mentoring, cohort-development and science communication are woven across all four geomodules.

     The Bridge to the Geosciences for Community College Students project ensures that participants receive ongoing and supportive integration into geoscience communities where they can gain first-hand experiences, deepen their excitement for and commitment to STEM, develop their science identity, and build critically important social networks that will support them on their education and career pathways.

     This presentation provides an overview of the partnership and data from the first year of implementation.

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