Unique learning opportunities supported by National Science Foundation funding
EDINBORO, Pa. – Edinboro University faculty members are joining experts across Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education to expand summer learning opportunities for college and high school students, thanks to a $397,222 grant from the National Science Foundation.
Geosciences professors at Edinboro are joining partner schools to create a Geoscience Learning Ecosystem (GLE) throughout the State System to offer a multi-faceted, sustainable initiative to foster statewide collaboration between faculty, industry partners and all Geoscience programs.
This collaborative GLE will feature an undergraduate summer field course for State System students and a series of Geology Short Courses (GeoSLIP-STREAM) for high school students – primarily underrepresented minority students.
Dr. Eric Straffin, who has taught laboratory and field courses in Geology at Edinboro since 2000, joins a cadre of State System faculty for this project, including Dr. Nicholas D. Deardorff (IUP) – principal investigator of the project – and co-principals Dr. Sarah Tindall (Kutztown) Dr. Dan Harris (Cal. U) and Dr. Sean Cornell (Shippensburg).
“Geologists are integral to the valuable mineral, fuel and water resources that we use and the healthy environment in which we live. However, few pre-college students realize that Geology is a potentially rewarding career option,” Straffin said. “The field school and pre-college experiences that we are developing will provide statewide opportunities for Geology undergraduates, and will help to expose new potential students to Geosciences.”
Learning modules within the GLE will highlight relevant geologic issues, including soil chemistry, shale gas and water resources in a service-learning context. Classroom learning will be integrated with field days – featuring local industry geologists – to increase student exposure to diverse career pathways and workplace skills.
The short courses (one to three class days) for high school students will occur at multiple locations around Pennsylvania to provide learning experiences for a diverse array of communities and to explore a range of geoscience-related problems affecting those communities.
“This faculty team from across PASSHE has been working tirelessly for the past few years to make this program come to fruition – in the form of unique learning opportunities,” said Dr. Denise Ohler, dean of Edinboro’s College of Science and Health Professions. “These experiences in the geosciences field could not come at a better time to encourage students and their interest and passion for our world.”
Secondary STEM teachers, administrators and students and regional workforce development agencies will also join the project to enhance the academic offerings.
According to the State System Geosciences team, previous research has demonstrated that exposure to regionally relevant career pathways and local professional mentors is essential to recruiting in any discipline.
These partnerships will strengthen ties among regional Geoscience employers and State System Geoscience programs, faculty and students.
The first 5-week Geology Field Course offering is planned for the summer of 2022, with significant cost offset by the grant for students.