Discovering Opportunity During COVID: Geoscience Outreach in the Virtual World

Wednesday 11:15-11:45am PT / 12:15-12:45pm MT / 1:15-1:45pm CT / 2:15-2:45pm ET Online


Michael Chiappone, The University of Texas at Austin
Patrick Martin, The University of Texas at Austin
Mary Poteet, The University of Texas at Austin
Alicia Rusthoven, The University of Texas at Austin
Anthony Edgington, The University of Texas at Austin
Carole Lakrout, The University of Texas at Austin
Mason Currin, The University of Texas at Austin
Matthew Riley, The University of Texas at Austin
We have developed an outreach program for grades 5-12 designed to engage students in learning about the diversity and importance of the geosciences. Our outreach team features a panel of geoscience undergraduates actively conducting research in a diversity of geoscience fields. While the idea behind our program was initially a response to lack of student motivation during COVID-19 online learning in grade schools, the virtual platform provides us the opportunity to reach out to schools across the nation to introduce students to the diversity of fields in the geosciences. Exposure to the diverse range of fields within geosciences in our secondary school system is often lacking. We provide students a glimpse into our field in an exciting and motivating manner. These presentations involve a tag-team of four to five undergraduate students who give insights into their unique experiences in the geosciences, followed by intermissions for students to interact directly with the presenters. We discuss a diverse selection of topics throughout the geosciences, including but not limited to environmental sciences, planetary geology, seismology, computational geosciences, and paleontology. During the current pandemic, our main method of outreach is to give interactive presentations to middle school and high school classrooms through platforms such as Zoom and Google Meets. While in the future we may transition to in-person events, online outreach will remain important for schools where travel is impractical due to the distance. To date, we have presented to three Texas schools, including two high schools and one middle school. Students demonstrated significant interest, asking a range of questions both during the online interaction and later through email. We are working to establish relationships with more classrooms, both in and out of the state, to create a program that will transcend past our own graduation, and will continue for years to come.

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