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Geology program gets $200K grant for high school courses
September 15, 2011A key obstacle to recruiting college students into geoscience majors is the lack of advanced geology and earth science classes in high schools – which, in turn, limits students' knowledge about career opportunities in those fields. To reach out to local high school students, CSUB has been operating a dual-credit Physical Geology class through the Kern High School District.
Now the program will be expanding with the help of a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. At least one more local high school will be added, as well as a scholarship program for students who become geology majors at Bakersfield College or CSUB. In the past, CSUB faculty have supported the classes on a volunteer basis. The grant will now allow them to enrich the classes with lab supplies, field trips, and more support.
During the three-year grant, the project is expected to reach 600 students, including minority and economically disadvantaged students from Kern's diverse population. The dual-credit courses are taught by trained earth science teachers at each high school, along with CSUB geology faculty and local industry professionals. Students who take the year-long Geology 201 course receive five units of transferable university credit.
"CSUB and KHSD serve a region in which the two primary industries, agriculture and petroleum, provide excellent career opportunities for geoscientists," said CSUB geology professor Dirk Baron, who coordinates the program along with fellow professor Jan Gillespie.
One aspect of the grant that Baron is interested in implementing is a formal assessment of the program to track how many students go on to study geoscience in college and work in related fields after graduation. While South High School has offered the program for 10 years and Ridgeview High School for three years, there has not been a process for tracking students after they leave.
"The project will create an evidence-based model for similar classes nationwide and highlight proven strategies for recruitment of minority students," Baron said.
CSUB offers two other college credit courses to high school students, both of which are held during summer on the CSUB campus. One is Enterprise College: Economics for Future Leaders, which gives students credit for their senior year economics course as well as 5 units of credit for college-level Economics 100 - The Economic Way of Thinking. The other is REVS-UP (Research Experience Vitalizing Science – University Program), which gives 5 units of credit for Science 277 - Special Topics, but does not include high school credit.