A new Missouri S&T program, titled “Getting your feet wet: Advancing geoscience education using water-based field experiences,” aims to increase recruitment of students into this field and overcome an awareness gap by training high school teachers on how to integrate geoscience field activities into the classroom. Thanks to a National Science Foundation grant, these educators will become more aware of geosciences as a potential career pathway for their students.
S&T faculty in geosciences, geological engineering, and teacher education and certification will work together to build relationships between educators and geosciences professionals, including citizen-science organizations connected to local field work. The geosciences faculty are creating student activities similar to what geoscientists would do on the job, while the teacher education faculty will create lessons that will be effective at the high school level.
“We’re trying to show high school students that geological engineering and geoscience is about a lot more than just rocks,” says Grote. “Some of the activities we expect teachers to do most often are learning how caves are made by taking water chemistry measurements, monitoring the health of aquatic macroinvertebrates and measuring how much groundwater flows into a stream.” says Dr. Katherine Grote, associate professor of geological engineering at S&T.
With water as the theme, the researchers hope to overcome the awareness gap that the geoscience community currently faces. As more environmental science needs arise, the U.S. geosciences workforce will grow along with it. There may be no better way to show students the importance of science than by presenting education in their own backyards.