EarthConnections: The Oklahoma Tribal Nations Alliance's Progress Toward Education Pathways

Monday 2:15pm Ritchie Hall: 368
Oral Session Part of Monday B: Earth Connections


Kathy Ellins, The University of Texas at Austin
Norma Neely, The University of Texas at Austin
John Taber, EarthScope Consortium
EarthConnections is a collective impact alliance that is developing regionally focused, education pathways to guide students toward geoscience-related careers. Pathways include opportunities for students to learn geoscience in the context of local issues, appreciate the value of geoscience in tackling local challenges and explore geoscience careers. The Oklahoma Tribal Nations Alliance, one of three EarthConnections regional alliances, seeks to address the relationship between increased number of earthquakes and energy industry practices, and resulting implications for energy production and energy-related jobs in Oklahoma. Induced seismicity is especially important to American Indians, who have a close association with the land and sovereign control of natural resources within their reservation boundaries.

Representatives from 11 organizations and 8 tribes have been involved in Alliance activities, including the University of Oklahoma School of Geology and Geophysics (including an existing course on combining Native and western science), Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS), Jones Academy (Bureau of Indian Education School with a summer STEM academy), and Anadarko School District (K-12 professional development and resources for Native American students). Through independent funding, OGS is deploying 100 low-cost seismographs in public locations across the state (museums, libraries, schools), to raise awareness of earthquake hazards and to provide additional data for locating earthquakes.

Participants at two stakeholder meetings considered critical stages along a pathway from middle school to tribal college to university, including informal learning experiences, where the potential for geoscience integration into STEM learning exists. This led to evolving pathway maps that show both American Indian, and other stakeholders' assets, which may be "stops" along an educational path that lead to a geoscience career. By focusing Earth education on the local issue of induced seismicity, we expose American Indian students to geoscience careers of value to their communities and help increase the resilience of American Indian communities in Oklahoma.

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