Today@Sam Article

Grant Aims To Educate Students On Workforce Need

Nov. 2, 2020
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

GeoScienceCoverSam Houston State University was recently awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for more than $345,000 over three years to expand the practice of geoscience education across the state of Texas. The grant, “GET TX: Geoscience Exposure and Training in Texas,” aims to increase the awareness of high school and community college students and teachers of the applicability of all STEM disciplines to the geosciences and career pathways. Part of this effort will help meet the projected workforce needs in the field of more than 130,000 open positions by 2029, according to the American Geosciences Institute and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

Beginning in 2018, the Department of Environmental and Geosciences’ David Moss, assistant professor, and Ross Guida, assistant professor, partnered together with colleagues at SHSU and Lone Star College-University Park to bring this program to life.

The program is divided into four parts which includes outreach events to high schools, teacher workshops, open house events at SHSU and LSC-UP and a 12-day summer program for select high school students.

“The goal is to pique student interest in order to meet a shortfall in the geoscience workforce that is projected to come over the next 10 years,” Moss said. “There will be more well-paying jobs in geoscience than graduating students to fill them. If we can reach students in high school, or community college, we can show them more about geosciences and the wide range of careers that are available here in Texas and we will help fill that gap in workforce.” 

Numerous reasons have been proposed for declining geoscience enrollments and workplace shortages, but one of the most important might be that high school and college students are largely uninformed about the field and applicable career opportunities. Moss and Guida explained that oftentimes students tell them they wish they knew more about the subject sooner when planning out their educational path.

This program aims to educate students early and often about how geosciences can be used to solve everyday problems, and part of the larger initiative is to show students that there are career paths outside of the normal tracks related to the courses they are already taking.

“Do you like statistics? You can solve flooding issues in your community. Do you like dinosaurs? The study of geology is for you.” Guida said. “Look at the world around us and you can find a myriad of problems that geologists and geoscientists seek to solve. Texas is routinely affected by hazards such as hurricanes and flooding, and awareness of their impacts is critical for the sustainability of the state.”

GET TX is not only about reaching students, but also their teachers. Twice a semester, 10 teachers will be brought to campus for workshops that will focus on geosciences issues relevant to southeast Texas.  Participants will be able to return to their classrooms with regional knowledge which they can incorporate into their lessons and pass on to Texas high school students.

Another exciting piece of the program involves bringing select students to campus for a 12-day summer program that includes fun outings. Students will visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s geoscience exhibits, take field trips to local environmental and geoscience areas of interest, and learn lab techniques to gain applied experience. This intensive workshop will allow students to hit the ground running with a working knowledge of geosciences, and it will involve practices unmatched in a traditional classroom. Selected students will receive an $800 stipend and room and board for participating in the summer program.

“There are plenty of things to show students about geosciences within a short driving distance of campus. Studies show that place-based learning, teaching using examples in students’ own backyards, produces significant gains in understanding,” Moss said. “This field and this program are a great opportunity. There are going to be lots of jobs for geoscientists and there are simply not enough students to fill those gaps,” Moss said. “Having a bachelors in this field opens a lot of doors for you here in Texas. Our program will not only help students learn about those opportunities but will also set them up for success in the geosciences.”

This fall, Guida, Moss, and colleagues will host the first teacher workshop on Nov. 14 at 8 a.m and the first virtual open house event on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.

High school and community college students, their families, and teachers are encouraged to sign up for the first open house to learn more about the program and opportunities in the geosciences. Applications for the summer program to be held in 2021 will be due in the spring.

To learn more about the program visit https://www.shsu.edu/academics/environmental-and-geosciences/get-tx/index or contact Moss at dxm112@shsu.edu

 

 

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