Outreach (Photo by aJusticeNetwork, Flickr )



Geological Sciences students and faculty are engaged in public outreach through diverse activities.  These efforts include:

GeoGators Classroom Visits

GeoGators is a volunteer outreach program to fulfill local area requests for classroom visits by a geoscientist.  Geogators volunteers, who include undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty from the Department of Geological Sciences are coordinated by Drs. Matthew Smith and Andrew Zimmerman. Dr. Smith and Dr. Zimmerman coordinate directly with teachers to align the content and nature of the classroom visit to the desired learning outcomes.  Inquiries for GeoGators volunteers should be directed to Drs. Smith or Zimmerman or can be coordinated through Pam Fitzgerald at the Alachua Co. School Volunteers Office.

Curriculum Design and Teacher Professional Development

Dr. Matthew Smith has been involved in a wide range of Earth science curriculum development projects, primarily aimed at middle school and high school grade levels.  A current curriculum project that is part of the NSF-funded GLOBE program (also involving Dr. M. Perfit) will be in the second phase of classroom testing beginning January 2009.  Information about the program can be found at http://flexe.psu.edu.

Geosciences faculty (M. Smith, R. Thomas) have collaborated with local schools as part of a funded Florida math-science partnership grant (entitled Beyond GEMS) to provide content training, inquiry oriented curricula, online support resources, and professional development to Alachua Co. middle school and high school science and math faculty.  Inquiries regarding teacher professional development can be directed to Dr. M. Smith.

Public Education in the Geosciences

Can You Dig It? Event:  Annually, the Dept. of Geological Sciences, in coordination with the Florida Museum of Natural History, host a day of education and fun activities related to the geosciences.  It is an event that is fun and interesting for all ages, with interactive activities, displays, and demonstrations ranging from gem cutting to exploding volcanoes.  In 2007 and 2008, the first two years of the event, it was sponsored by student government as one of the “Museum Nights offerings and we broke attendance records in each case. Inquiries regarding the Can You Dig It? Event can be directed to Dr. M. Smith.

Additionally, a diverse range of geosciences faculty volunteer to speak at a wide range of different events.  Inquiries for public speakers should be directed to the Department of Geological Sciences Office, where office staff can direct the inquiry to the most appropriate faculty member.

Public Policy and Planning

Several faculty members in the Department of Geological Sciences actively contribute to public planning with interests ranging from water management district and county planning interests to State and National educational policy regarding topics like the role of Intelligent Design in science classrooms (Dr. J. Meert) and the development of state science education standards and assessments (R. Thomas).  Inquiries should be directed to the Geosciences Dept Office, where office staff can direct the inquiry to the most appropriate faculty member.

Research-Related Outreach

UF geosciences faculty coordinate with existing UF outreach programs, like the UF Student Science Training Program via the UF Center for Precollegiate Education and Training), to mentor pre-collegiate students conducting research.  Students mentored by geosciences faculty have presented results at national meetings, published findings, and participated in both university-wide and national competitions.  Student and mentor achievements have resulted in mentoring awards and recognition at national-level science competitions.

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