K-12 Outreach and Resources

K-12 lesson plans based on local geology from SJVC Rocks!

Summer research participation program in geology for K-12 teachers and high school students

About the Program

During the summer the Department of Geological Sciences at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) has invited K-12 teachers and high school students from local schools to participate in a research program that investigates the climate history of the San Joaquin Valley of California.  The project is aligned with the K-12 California Science Content Standards and teaches skills that are relevant to the petroleum industry.  The goal of the project is twofold in that it increases the science content knowledge of K-12 science teachers and supports a future pipeline of science professionals with stipends and opportunities to be a part of authentic scientific research.

The skills and thought processes of this study are critical to those commonly practiced by petroleum geologists and other earth scientists. Despite this fact, and the fact that Chevron and other petroleum companies commonly employs CSUB geology majors, very few high school students arriving at CSUB elect to major in Geology.  Part of this problem is that very few high school teachers were trained in geology and thus, do not have the training nor exposure to the subject allowing them to act as mentors for future geology majors nor even as advisors to suggest geology as a major with excellent employment opportunities. This particular program is well suited to help solve this problem.


The research of this project centers around the analysis of 50-foot sediment cores from two locations in the Tulare Lake basin. These cores preserve a regional record of the environment of deposition dating back to about 35,000 years before the present. Research tasks include the description of sediments from the cores for parameters such as grain size, color, and mineralogy. Sediment analyses include total organic and total inorganic carbon, micropaleontology, as well as magnetic susceptibility. Skills and knowledge gained in the classroom and laboratory settings are reinforced with field trips to the Owens Valley/Mammoth area and to Chevron’s operations in the Kern River Field. 

Each teacher is in charge of the description and analysis of several 5-foot core segments. Each teacher is the leader of a research group including a CSUB undergraduate geology student and 

one or two high school students. The groups are responsible for all aspects of the description and analysis of their core segments. They are also in charge of the paleoenvironmental interpretations and the presentation of their research results at the end of the summer projects. CSUB faculty serve as scientific advisors, provide lectures with background information, and compile the overall results.

The 2004, 2005 and 2006 summer programs have been funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through their Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences program.  Beginning in summer 2007 the program is primarily funded by a donation from Chevron through CSUB’s REVS-UP program, supplemented by remaining NSF funds.  More information about the REV-UP program can be found here:  2013 Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) website.

Project Links

Research project overview

Newspaper Articles

Participant Testimonials

Summer 2008

Summer 2007

Summer 2006

Summer 2005

Summer 2004

Presentations at professional meetings

Resource Page for teachers

For more information about our Outreach Programs please contact Dr. Dirk Baron, CSUB Geological Sciences, 661-654-3044 or dbaron@csub.edu