Florida A&M University

Institutional Context

Developed as a 1890 land grant institution, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) is a public, historically Black university located in Tallahassee, Florida with a rich legacy of providing access to a high-quality, affordable education with programs and services that guide students toward successfully achieving their dreams. FAMU has a long history of enhancing the lives of its constituents and empowering communities through innovative teaching, research, scholarship, partnerships, and public service. FAMU is accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and is a State University of Florida. FAMU enrolls about 10,000 students from across the United States and more than 70 countries, and in 2020, one-third of the students were enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics. Additionally, the University has 14 colleges and schools, 54 bachelor's degrees, and 12 doctoral degrees as well as several satellite campuses: College of Law in Orlando, College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health in Crestview, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami, Florida. Committed to the values of accountability, inclusion, innovation, and integrity, the University continues its rich legacy and historic mission of educating African Americans and embraces all dimensions of diversity.

Existing Student Supports

Strategies to create geoscience pathways

Pathways within the College of Education

The College of Education (COE) was the first and only college, department, or major at the inception of the University in 1887. The Science Education program at FAMU gives a foundational knowledge in the Geosciences, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Environmental Sciences. The COE future teachers all receive the foundational concepts, knowledge and skills in the Geosciences and other sciences. The COE administers the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Developmental Research School (described below) K-12 to promote cutting-edge educational practices such as the Micro-Spiral Method, which is an innovative practice of recursively introducing concepts, knowledge, and skills that supports students in developing a deeper understanding.

K-12 School Geoscience Supports

There are various methods that have been used to support youth exploration of STEM. Media, such as newsletters (e.g., CAST MAGAZINE) the College of Agriculture have been distributed at key locations, and the CURES program has recruited students. The FAMU faculty change agent works with a multitude of stakeholders (including students, teachers, parent groups, and K12 administrators) to raise awareness of the types of supports, services, and pathways related to Earth Sciences that can be provided by the change agent and FAMU. For example, the change agent has provided programming for kindergarten courses to introduce students to scientific concepts. Other special programs depend on Biology Ambassadors, who are undergraduates at FAMU, to recruit at the high schools. Each of these strategies prove to be effective in recruitment of students to the current programs at FAMU.

Presidential Support of the Geosciences

President Larry Robinson is the 12th president, a distinguished professor, a researcher in the school of the Environmental, and a Geoscientist. Through his work in these roles, Dr. Robinson has supported and lead efforts in geoscience (and STEM more broadly) at FAMU and nationally. Dr. Robinson is the director and principal investigator of the Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems which was established in September 2016 with $15.4 million award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Educational Partnership Program. President Robinson is leading the partnership and collaborating with five universities to make a major impact on coastal and marine ecosystems education, science and policy. In July 2018, Dr. Robinson was appointed to serve on the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Advisory Panel which provides advice and recommendations to the Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education.

Specialized Support and Instructional Strategies

Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems

Originally established in September 2016 from NOAA's Educational Partnership Program (EPP), FAMU (and President Robinson specifically) leads the CCME-II Center in the partnership and collaborates with five universities to make a major impact on coastal and marine ecosystems education, science, and policy. The goal of the center is to "recruit, educate, train, and graduate a new generation of scientists, particularly from underrepresented communities, in NOAA mission-aligned STEM disciplines, equipped to utilize interdisciplinary approaches to address issues confronting marine and coastal communities."

Developmental Research School

The mission of FAMU Developmental Research School (DRS) is to conduct research, demonstration, and evaluation of the management of teaching and learning. In more practical terms, the FAMU DRS allows education research to move from theory into practice. To support college and career readiness awareness, FAMU's DRS offers AVID classes as part of the curriculum beginning in the eighth grade. The DRS programming supports early exposure to the geosciences. As part of FAMU's DRS, students in middle school are offered computer and career planning courses. In this course of study, the students have the opportunity to use the online FAMU Lab Sch - 0351 - Florida A & M Univ Develop Research School - 2014-15 SIP Florida A&M University Developmental Research School Planner Choices. The high school students are offered academic support through the after-school ACT/SAT classes. During ACT/SAT classes, students learn strategies for taking and being successful in passing the ACT and SAT. They are also exposed to career development and planning for College and Career Readiness. Elementary students work with professors from the local university to gain experience in gardening. This provides hands-on experience in agricultural sciences and ties into the students' science curriculum, allowing the students practical experiences that enhance their learning. There is a desire to build a STEM lab in the DRS to get students ready for college-level curriculum.

Geosciences Bridge Program: NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center

FAMU is the lead institution for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Geoscience Bridge Program. Education and outreach programs related to ecological and coastal management raise awareness of related careers while giving participants hands-on experience and developing natural and socioeconomic science research tools and policy/decision making best practices. For the past 12 years, this program has supported high school (grades 10-12), undergraduate, and graduate students.

K-12 Challenger Learning Center

The Challenger Learning Center is long-term partnership between NASA and the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering that engages K-12 students and strives to 1) foster long-term interest in STEM; 2) create positive learning experiences; and 3) motivate students to pursue higher education and careers in STEM fields. Participating students engage in hands-on activities that integrate math and science into the real world while being introduced to potential career pathways.

Center for Teacher Induction

The Center for Teacher Induction at FAMU outlines a set of programs and strategies to promote the personal and professional growth of its teacher education graduates during their first three years of professional practice. This experience allows the student teachers to fulfill their practicum and begin to apply and interpret the theories they have learned through their education as realistic practices for their students.

Candidate Empowerment Center

The Candidate Empowerment Center (CEC) offers teacher education candidates academic support and provides assistance in preparing for teacher certification tests. CEC is dedicated to the academic and professional success of teacher education candidates. To this end, the center provides sample tests, tutoring services, and workshops and bootcamps.


Connections between K-12 and Universities

Strong relationships between K-12 and University educators and administrators are beneficial in raising awareness of geoscience opportunities. One such example is university recruiters periodically presenting students with updated information regarding academics as well as GPA requirements. They also present information about career development and possible career choices. Another is having close connection with faculty allows for greater information flow and support. FAMU has already established these strong connections and has experienced the widespread benefits.

Financial and Resource Supports: Long-term Funding

It is critical for special programs to be long-term investments that intentionally support under-represented populations, as such longer-term opportunities surface the things that best work in these programs while also providing the necessary time for the special programs to be institutionalized.

Geoscience Awareness: Career Fairs

Usually career fairs are attended by juniors and/or seniors in high school. During interviews, K-12 In-service teachers recommended being strategic in the invited career fair presenters. To highlight specific fields, they notes that specialized companies and institutions are high value. For example, city Survey companies, recycling programs, oceanographers, museum curators.