Cal U Partnership Targets Future Geoscientists

Jun 03, 2021

The University joins other State System Schools to create learning opportunities for college, high school students.

geology student

Geology professors at California University of Pennsylvania are joining experts at other universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education to offer summer learning opportunities to college and high school students.

A $397,822 grant from the National Science Foundation will be used to create a Geoscience Learning Ecosystem, a statewide collaboration among faculty, industry partners and State System universities with geoscience programs.

The GLE will feature three components: a summer field course for undergraduates in the State System; a program for high school students — particularly minorities — called the Geoscience Service Learning in Pennsylvania-STEM Readiness for All Municipalities (GeoSLIP-STREAM); and a collaboration with professional partners.

Dr. Daniel Harris, associate professor in Cal U’s Department of Biology, Geology and Environmental Sciences, is a co-principal investigator for the project. He joins principal investigator Dr. Nicholas Deardorff, from IUP, and co-principals Dr. Eric Straffin, Edinboro; Dr. Sarah Tindall, Kutztown; and Dr. Sean Cornell, Shippensburg.

Summer field course modules will combine classroom learning with field days as State System students explore soil chemistry, shale gas, water resources and other topics.

“Field camp is a crucial educational experience, but the time and financial commitments required for traditional courses in the western United States are prohibitive for many students,” said Harris, who teaches geology courses at Cal U.

“A Pennsylvania-specific field camp opportunity will not only provide a more flexible opportunity for these students, but also will train students in geologic concerns specific to the needs of Pennsylvania residents.”

The first 5-week Geology Field Course is planned for summer 2022. The grant will offset most costs for participating college students.

The courses for high school students will occur at various locations across the state. Students will participate in single- or multi-day geoscience service-learning projects, led by State System faculty, industry partners and college-student mentors from the summer field course.

“This initiative will better educate local high school students regarding the role geologists play in the Pennsylvania job market for environmental and energy sectors,” Harris said