In The Trenches - July 2019

Expanding, Advancing the Geoscience Community

Volume 9, Number 3

In This Issue

Online Supplements

This site provides web links that supplement the print articles as well as news and web resources. Members can follow the "Read more" links below to access full versions of the articles online. To receive the full edition of In the Trenches, join NAGT

A Message from the President of NAGT

David McConnell, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

When I first joined NAGT, I did not understand what had to happen behind the scenes to keep the organization running smoothly. In serving as president and as a member of the Executive Committee for the last couple of years it is now obvious how much the success of NAGT depends on the efforts of its members. Whether they are serving in one of its many vibrant sections, working in the divisions, or participating on numerous committees, the force of so many people stepping up to volunteer is what supports this organization. That sense of community is what I value most about NAGT. I see evidence of that when hundreds of like-minded folks show up for the annual Earth Educators' Rendezvous. It is a concentrated dose of geoscience education in just five days. It is always great to participate with colleagues in the workshops, grab new ideas from the teaching demos, learn about new research findings at the talks and poster sessions, and catch up with old and new friends at the social events. Read more...

Understanding NAGT: Members and Leadership

Anne Egger, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA

I joined NAGT as a graduate student almost 20 years ago. At the time, how the organization was structured never entered my thoughts. However, now having served in the presidential line, on committees as both member and chair, and as editor of the Journal of Geoscience Education, I know that organizational activities don't happen automatically. A functioning not-for-profit professional association relies on its members and a strong organizational structure that supports members, values their contributions, and provides pathways to leadership. Knowing more about the structure can help everyone contribute to and benefit from NAGT. Read more...

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Earth and Environmental Sciences: Supporting the Success of All Students

Rachel Beane, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME, and Stefany Sit, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL

Now is an opportune moment for the Earth and environmental sciences to adjust our modes of attracting and educating students. National demographics are changing (Bernard & Cooperdock, 2018), our science and society need diverse geoscientists (Huntoon, Tanenbaum, & Hodges, 2015), and our professional ethics demand equitable educational opportunities for all. We have the responsibility to make choices in our teaching and in our programs to better attract and support a diverse population of students (Callahan et al., 2017; Sherman-Morris & McNeal, 2016; Wolfe & Riggs, 2017) and to remain a thriving and relevant scientific community poised to meet the needs of society. Read more...

Community Science Education: A Personal Journey

Raj Pandya, Thriving Earth Exchange, American Geophysical Union (AGU), Washington, DC

The message of this article is simple: it is important and worthwhile to teach geoscience through real-world projects that bring you and your students into close collaboration with local community leaders. I'll call this approach community science education: science education that accompanies and supports a sustained partnership with local community leaders and uses science to tackle community priorities. My experience shows that these kinds of projects make a real difference, engage students, allow you to follow best practices in science education, and can be powerful ways to diversify the sciences. Read more...

Flyover Country: Creating Flexible Field Experiences Using a Mobile Geoscience App

David M. Birlenbach, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; Avery Cook Shinneman, University of Washington-Bothell, Bothell, WA; Shane Loeffler, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; and Amy Myrbo, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Field experiences are an integral and formative part of undergraduate education in the geosciences (Petcovic et al., 2014; Wilson, 2017). However, many students have obligations that restrict their availability to attend instructor-led field trips outside of scheduled class time. These constraints on students' time, including family care, paid work, and contributions to family businesses, tend to be more limiting for underrepresented, low-income, and firstgeneration students (Warburton et al., 2001), presenting a barrier to early exposure field experiences that may lead them into the geosciences and encourage them to persist into higher level coursework (Levine et al., 2007; Wolfe, 2018). Mobile apps can be used to overcome barriers by facilitating self-guided field trips, which give students the flexibility to take field trips on their own schedules. Flyover Country is a free National Science Foundation-funded mobile app developed at the University of Minnesota that provides users with the ability to access numerous geoscience databases (e.g., Macrostrat geologic map database, Paleobiology Database, Neotoma Paleoecology Database, Open Core Data), Wikipedia articles, and field trip guides along a selected path anywhere in the world. Read more...

MY FAVORITE DEMONSTRATION: Classroom Demonstrations for the Earth Sciences: Silicate Mineral Structures

Greg Mead, Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL

The Earth's crust is around 75% oxygen and silicon, and silicate minerals (consisting of those two elements plus a smattering of other ions) are by far the most abundant minerals in the crust. Silicates (like olivine, Figure 1) have a wide variety of crystal structures, all based on the silica tetrahedron, which is a complex ion shaped like a foursided pyramid, with four oxygen atoms at the corners and a silicon atom at the center, During my classroom discussion of this structure, I pass around two different examples of tetrahedra: Dungeons and Dragons dice (Figure 2) that I find at various stores in town, available in a variety of shapes, many of which correspond to crystal shapes, and a back massage device (Figure 3) that I found at a yard sale. This is useful because I also point out that the wooden balls correspond to oxygen atoms, and the silicon atom would be at the center where the steel bars cross. Read more...

A Preliminary Evaluation of a First-Year College Credit Plus (CCP) Physical Geology Course

Kurtz K. Miller, Wayne High School, Huber Heights City Schools, Huber Heights, Ohio, and Sinclair Community College, Dayton, Ohio

In high schools across much of the United States, earth science, environmental science, and geology courses may often be taken by students simply looking for an "easy" third or fourth-year science class. The "rocks for jocks" mentality persists (Miller, 2014). This was a concern of mine when my principal asked me to consider offering a College Credit Plus (CCP) physical geology course as a dual enrollment option. Based on my experience with this course, I will detail and evaluate the first offering of physical geology at a high school in Ohio. Hopefully, this will be useful to other high school geoscience teachers who have the opportunity to teach similar classes. After introducing how this opportunity arose, I will provide background information about CCP, how I approached teaching physical geology, and data, discussion points, and conclusions about my experiences.Read more...

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