WRANE: an Out-of-School-Time Learning Ecosystem for Pre-University Students Focusing on Water-Related Geoscience Research

Monday 1:45pm SERC Building - 110AB
Oral Session Part of Monday Oral Session B

Authors

Tracy Quan, Oklahoma State University-Main Campus
Ashley Burkett, Oklahoma State University-Main Campus
Toni Ivey, Oklahoma State University-Main Campus
Jim Puckette, Oklahoma State University-Main Campus
The Water Research, Assessment, and Networking Ecosystem (WRANE) is an NSF-funded program designed to educate pre-university students and teachers on water-related geoscience topics and increase the exposure of teachers and students to geoscience and STEM fields through the establishment of teacher-led out-of-school-time learning groups at several Oklahoma high-schools and community colleges. The program's goals are threefold: to improve the quality of pre-university geoscience education; to illustrate water geoscience concepts via citizen science research projects; and to increase the number and diversity of students interested in the geosciences. All participants have access to a water geoscience-based online curriculum, activities, and field and lab demonstrations developed by the WRANE PIs. WRANE groups design and execute their own citizen science research project focusing on issues and interests of the students, teachers, and their local community. WRANE PIs support the curriculum and research projects through funding, access to instrumentation, subject matter expertise, and exposure to geoscience professionals in water-related fields.

The program is currently in the second year of organized WRANE cohorts, with participating schools located across Oklahoma in rural, urban, and suburban communities. WRANE groups have conducted research projects ranging from the impact of urban runoff on a local creek in Oklahoma City to natural and anthropogenic influences on surface water near the Tar Creek Superfund site. Participants presented projects at science fairs and regional geoscience conferences. Initial findings indicate that participation in the program has increased student interest in STEM fields and careers, and that teachers felt that the WRANE curriculum was beneficial to their professional development and the education of their students. We expect that this program will play a significant role in undergraduate recruitment and outreach activities as well as advancing geoscience and STEM education.