GP-IMPACT: Early College High School Pathways to Geoscience Majors and Careers: Full STEAM Ahead!

Grants and Contracts Details


Members of the faculty of the University of Kentucky's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES), and the University of Kentucky College of Education Educational Leadership Studies, in cooperation with Fayette County, Kentucky's STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Academy, an early college high school (ECHS), will submit a proposal for the Geopaths-IMPACT program. Geoscience is a discipline rarely entered by college freshmen, and the number of majors graduating annually is predicted to lag behind the need for employees in this field. Diversity within the discipline remains low, as well. Our proposaltests a model of cooperation between a geosciences department and a local ECHS that is designed to increase recruitment and enhance retention of a diverse body of students. Admission to the STEAM Academy is by lottery and the diversity of the student body reflects the diversity of the local community. Similar models have proven successful for recruiting majors in other STEM disciplines such as medicine and engineering, and we hypothesize that such a program would work well in recruiting a diverse population of high school students into a discipline with excellent employment prospects. Our three-tiered plan leverages a pre-existing student pathway that will ensure that all students enrolled in the high school (approximately 600) receive multiple exposures to geosciences as a career option during their first two years at the Academy. Students may then progress to a customized short internship in an EES research laboratory, followed by enrollment in college courses in geosciences on the campus of the University of Kentucky. Students who choose to follow this "Geosciences Pathway" will continue to enroll in courses at the STEAM Academy, where teachers will work with the PI's to embed geoscience-related skills and activities into other disciplines such as English and Math. We will work with UK's College of Education Evaluation Center to track both the rate at which we are able to recruit and retain students, and with cooperation of the STEAM Academy, we will track the success of the students beyond the three years of the funded program. We intend to test and refine a sustainable and scalable model that may be implemented by other geosciences departments who wish to build a relationship with the growing number of ECHS's, a recruitment pool overlooked in our discipline, even while the number of these schools nationally is expanding rapidly.
Effective start/end date7/1/166/30/19


  • National Science Foundation: $297,389.00


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