EarthConnections > San Bernardino Alliance

San Bernardino Alliance

Sally McGill
California State University-San Bernardino

Gabriela Noriega and Mark Benthien
Southern California Earthquake Center


The San Bernardino Alliance will develop collaborative efforts to improve, contextualize, and connect introductory geoscience teaching at high schools, community colleges, and universities and to strengthen ties between the schools and local geoscience professional societies within Inland Southern California, focusing primarily on the societal issue of earthquake hazards. The focus during the 2-year pilot will be on developing connections between and improving introductory geoscience teaching at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), one feeder community college and one feeder high school. In subsequent years, the connections and activities will be expanded to other high schools, community colleges and universities within the region. The regional alliance will make extensive use of earthquake hazards resources already developed by SCEC, InTeGrate, IRIS, and UNAVCO, and will make use of strategies for connections to the workforce used by those partners as well as TEX.

Approaches to accomplish goals

  1. Holding a teaching workshop open to regional geoscience faculty who teach introductory courses
  2. Preparing interested and qualified high school teachers to teach a college-level honors geology course at their high school, for which high school students will earn credit for Geol 101 at California State University, San Bernardino
  3. Developing and improving connections between students and faculty mentors through joint activities planned and implemented by the same faculty who are supported to improve teaching
  4. Improving geoscience career awareness by involving more students from high schools, community colleges and universities in activities with local geoscience professional organizations

Pathway Development

Community connection

The San Bernardino Allliance brings together teachers and students from Etiwanda High School, Chaffey College, and CSUSB, along with CSUSB geology alumni and other professional geologists from the local area. The core members of the San Bernardino Alliance team from Etiwanda High School and Chaffey College were selected because they had demonstrated themselves to be local champions through their dedication to supporting geoscience student clubs, their participation in Earth Science research and their inclusion of their students in that research, and their Earth Science curriculum development. This Alliance kicked off with a Round Table event in December 2016 from which we gathered community input from faculty, administrators, students and alumni from the three educational institutions listed above as well as geoscience professionals from the region and community users of geoscience information (e.g., emergency response). At the Round Table event CSUSB geology alumni showed a strong level of interest in supporting the next generation of Earth scientists. See for a summary of what we learned from the Round Table event. The San Bernardino Alliance remains embedded in the local community via the participation of high school and college students from the region, who bring with them the experiences of their families and communities. Student participants have surveyed their family and friends to discover the geoscience issues that are considered of highest importance within local communities.

Use geoscience to address a local need or problem

So far we have been focusing on earthquakes as the local problem. This is a serious problem, but is not necessarily perceived as urgent by the local community. The Southern California Earthquake Center provides a good example of how the geoscience community contributes to addressing the earthquake problem in Southern California through scientific research, internships for students, public information on earthquake preparedness, and knowledge-transfer activities between earthquake scientists and engineers. Our San Bernardino Alliance can help to disseminate some of SCEC's outstanding contributions to the greater San Bernardino area. We also intend to select a service learning project related to earthquakes as a focal point for joint activities between high school, community college and university students interested in geoscience.

Connect learning opportunities at multiple educational levels

The diagram above illustrates the existing pathways for students from the San Bernardino region who are interested in geosciences, along with the three interventions we are implementing to strengthen those pathways. Intervention 1 is an NAGT/InTeGrate traveling workshop scheduled at CSUSB for September 7-8, 2017. This workshop will focus on using active learning pedagogy and societally relevant content to improve the engagement of students in introductory geoscience courses at the university, community college and high school level within the San Bernardino region. This workshop will also be used to expand the San Bernardino Alliance by recruiting participants from other universities, community colleges and high schools within the San Bernardino region. Intervention 2 includes planning joint activities for students in the geology clubs at local high schools, community colleges and universities with representatives who are professional geologists (e.g., field trips, guest speakers, and visits to the dinner meetings of local geoscience professional organizations), so that students at earlier stages of the geoscience pathway will have opportunities to meet and interact with students and faculty who are from institutions that represent later stages in the pathway as well as with geologists who are engaged in various careers. Intervention 3 provides support for high school faculty who are interested in and qualified to teach a college-level geoscience course at their high school to do so. High school students who pass such courses can earn credit for Geol 101 at CSUSB, thus facilitating their progression from high school into college and their awareness of geoscience as a field of study.

Coupled classroom and service learning opportunities

At our teaching workshop scheduled for September 7-8, 2017, our alliance will discuss one or more potential service learning projects that could become a focus for the San Bernardino Alliance.

Mentoring and signposting support students

The joint activities between high school, community college and university geology clubs, with inclusion of professional geologists will provide opportunities for mentoring between faculty and students as well as between students at different educational levels, and between professional geologists and students.