Earth and Environment Interest Group

Members of this interest group are committed to increasing high-quality opportunities for students to learn science by addressing problems in their communities both through basic research and the application of scientific knowledge to specific problems. Within the interest group, we share ideas and expertise, and collaborate to strengthen research and evaluation and to increase the visibility of our individual and collective work.

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Project-based, experiential learning

Students are naturally captivated by their local natural and built environments. This innate fascination can be leveraged to build students' interests in science and keep them engaged during critical drop out points. Locally-relevant, grassroots initiatives are vitally important tools to build pathways into STEM fields (e.g. biology, geosciences, engineering, technology) for a wide range of underrepresented minority students.

Project-based, experiential learning should: 1) nurture active education through environmentally, culturally and geographically relevant guided inquiry, 2) empower and employ informal and/or non-traditional community educators (e.g., indigenous elders, family, practitioners of natural knowledge, museum staff), and 3) value exploration over answers, context over content, and cross-cultural and interdisciplinary experiences over memorization.

Utilizing and connecting community networks

In order to work towards collective impact, robust engagement of community groups and networks must be achieved. More often than not, those working on broadening participation efforts at the community level face challenges in making strong cultural connections and ties. Leaders involved in programmatic efforts need to embody the communities they are trying to reach in order to reach a shared purpose and vision for expansive connections.

Getting to the heart of community is a multi-pronged approach that must include: 1) integrating community-driven research into science and learning from community members, 2) empowering informal community networks to share experiences and create identity in science, and 3) creating an inclusive culture that takes into consideration social and cultural factors that impact communities.

Who's Involved?

The Earth and Environmental Science Interest group was formed by INCLUDES pilots that are using community engagement to increase high-quality opportunities for all students to learn science. The group is open to all who share its vision. The group may be particularly useful for INCLUDES pilot projects or those who are interested in forming or joining such projects.

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