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Andrew Alden

Geoscience Makes Progress in California High Schools

By November 21, 2011

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The University of California (UC) system has approved a new high-school course, Honors Earth Science, that qualifies as an advanced lab science course for UC admission. This is a big step that has been hard-fought for by many California geologists since 2003. It means that a truly interdisciplinary science—geology—can finally be added to the "core" sciences of physics, biology and chemistry with the same reward of "honors" status for UC applicants. It would give juniors and seniors a good dose of applying their knowledge to natural-world things like tsunamis, minerals, landscape, city planning and more.

The course was developed by Wendy Van Norden of the private Harvard-Westlake School in North Hollywood, with the help of distinguished geologists led by UCLA's Ray Ingersoll with UCSB's Bruce Luyendyk and UC Davis's Eldridge Moores. So far that is the only place this course is taught, but the syllabus is available for adoption around the state. It includes four field trips in Southern California.

As America's most populous state, California can be a bellwether for the nation. In announcing the new course, Ingersoll's team noted, "The ultimate achievement of this development would be to attract more entering UC students to take courses in the Earth sciences and to have them consider it as a college major and a career choice." They also pointed out that a high school would need $8-10,000 in funding to properly equip it and added: "We professional Earth scientists can help in this regard if we know of funding sources." Can you think of some?


November 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm
(1) Howard says:

“‘We professional Earth scientists can help in this regard if we know of funding sources.’ Can you think of some?”

Well, considering that the oil/gas and mining industries employ thousands of Earth scientists worldwide, and need schools to keep them supplied with new recruits, that would probably be a good place to start looking for funding.

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