Education & Outreach

In an effort to integrate our research and learning with teaching and outreach, all of Prof. Joel Saylor’s research team are involved in outreach to local middle school students.

We seek to broaden participation in the geosciences by introducing middle school students to classroom- and field-based geological experiences. We also seek to encourage and support middle school teachers in their mission through demonstrations and explanations that can be incorporated into lessons.

The goals of these outreach projects are to:

  • increase student understanding of geological processes within a plate tectonics context, with specific focus on the links between plate tectonics, mountain building, and basin formation;
  • provide students with an increased awareness of the relevance of geological processes by introducing them to the geology of their local setting;
  • increase teachers’ depth of geological understanding, providing the basis for that understanding to be passed on to students;
  • create lasting relationships with students and teachers in the Houston area;
  • encourage graduate and undergraduate students’ transitions from learner to teacher and mentor.

Following the NSF Broader Impact guidelines this project will:

  • advance discovery while promoting teaching, training, and learning by engaging all of the research team as teachers within a middle school context;
  • broaden participation of under-represented groups through targeted outreach to Houston’s diverse middle school population
  • broaden dissemination of geological concepts to middle school students both through direct instruction and also teacher education

Below are a few examples of the activities in which the research team are involved.

Introduction to Geology with Eagle Springs Elementary School 5th graders (Humble ISD)

Nick Bartschi joined Peter Anderson of TerraElm on 28 October, 2014 for a hands-on geology leasson with 5th grade science classes at Eagle Springs Elementary School. The lesson focused on identifying rock types from hand sample kits.

Introduction to Geology with James DeAnda Elementary School 5th graders

Crystal Saadeh joined Peter Anderson of TerraElm for an introductory presentation to 5th graders at James DeAnda Elementary School. The lesson focused on teaching the students what a geologist studies, how to identify minerals and rocks, and the importance of geology. They also did a little chemistry experiment to show the students a how geologist can use HCl to differentiate between carbonate and quartz when in the field.

Field Trip to Enchanted Rock and Ink's Lake with Western Academy 7th grade

Joel joined 21 7th graders as well as 3 Western Academy teachers on a 3 day field trip to explore the geology of central Texas, with emphasis on the igneous and metamorphic rocks exposed at Enchated Rock and Ink's Lake state parks.