EARTH SCIENCE EDUCATION RESOURCES IN NEVADA

by D.D. La Pointe
February 1997
In the last few years, the importance of increasing science literacy among United States citizens has been underscored by the work of the National Research Council and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The National Science Education Standards and the Benchmarks for Scientific Literacy developed by these groups are landmark works which provide specific goals for achieving science literacy, a framework for achieving those goals, and guides for assessing our progress toward those goals. Both works emphasize the importance of relating science education to natural phenomena and science- and technology- related social issues. Nowhere is this relationship better developed than in the earth sciences, where chemistry, biology, geology, mathematics, and geography are intimately interrelated in finding solutions to problems that impact people directly in their daily lives. Preparing for and mitigating the harmful impacts of earthquakes, floods, landslides, and volcanoes; sensible land-use planning and ground water concerns; responsible mineral and energy development; and dealing with the waste products of some of these necessary activities. All these critical social issues require science education that is well based in earth and related sciences to prepare future generations to assume the responsibilities of meeting technological needs of society.

Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology staff members work with other university departments, state agencies, federal agencies, professional organizations, private groups, industry, and individuals to promote earth science educational programs and materials and to make them widely available to Nevada educators and students. Although the contributing partners in these ventures have widely divergent priorities, they share a common interest in promoting effective science education programs which result in mutual benefits profiting all participants.

Following is a listing of some earth science education programs and materials in which NBMG has been involved and people to contact for more information. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a starting place for educators to find programs and materials to augment their earth science study units. Many of the educational programs consist of teacher-training workshops for K-16 educators. These include:

NSTEMA (Nevada Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Alliance) workshops for K-16 teachers, Earth and Space Science Institute workshops for secondary school science teachers, and Geological Issues in Nevada for K-12 teachers are all held on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. These are workshops, lectures and field exercises on a variety of topics in science, engineering, mathematics and societal issues using Great Basin natural history to illustrate basic scientific concepts.

The Elementary Discovery Science Institute and The Middle School Thematic Science Institute send university and government agency scientists to rural counties across the state of Nevada to conduct elementary and middle school teacher-training workshops on basic science subjects and multidisciplinary curriculum development on themes of science and society several times a year.

Another Nevada program that directly involves Nevada students is the Western Nevada Regional Science Fair (WNRSF) at UNR. Every year, more than 700 science projects are selected from more than 100 northern Nevada school science fairs to participate in the WNRSF. The projects are judged by dozens of scientist volunteers from business, industry, academia, professional societies, and government agencies. Grants from local businesses provide monetary awards and scholarships for winners as incentives to encourage increased student participation in this process of scientific experimentation and discovery.

Nevada Science and Technology Day is held annually on the campuses of University of Nevada, Reno and Las Vegas. It brings more than 250 students from 60 high schools in Nevada and California to work with university faculty members on specific science and engineering lab projects. This program is intended to inspire gifted high school students to pursue careers in science and engineering.

For further information regarding NSTEMA workshops, Earth and Space Science Institute workshops, Elementary Discovery Science Institute, Middle School Thematic Science Institute, the Western Nevada Regional Science Fair, or Nevada Science and Technology Day, contact
Thomas P. Lugaski, Curator, W.M. Keck Museum
Mackay School of Mines, MS168
University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557
(702) 784-6052 lugaski@unr.edu

Minerals Education Workshops for K-12 educators are three-day workshops held twice a year in Las Vegas and in northern Nevada sponsored by the Nevada Division of Minerals and the Nevada Mining Association but propelled by the joint efforts of volunteers from a wide variety of groups including NBMG, the W.M. Keck Museum, Women in Mining, Women's Mining Coalition, numerous mining and equipment companies, university geoscience graduate students, and local prospectors' clubs. The workshops present grade-appropriate hands-on classroom activities focusing on geology, economics, mineral products and their uses, mining and technology, geography, measurement, math, map reading, and map making. The workshops also offer gold panning and field trips to industrial mineral sites and gold/silver mines. For further information regarding the annual Minerals Education Workshops contact
Diane Kasterko, Nevada Mining Association
5250 South Virginia Street, Suite 220
Reno, NV 89502
(702) 829-2121
fax (702) 829-2148

The first-hand experience gained by students on earth science-related field trips is invaluable, and can also be a powerful catalyst for multidisciplinary follow-up classroom activities. Because public funding for such K-12 field trips is minimal in most of Nevada, the Geological Society of Nevada (GSN) sponsors a field-trip grant program to defray transportation expenses for K-12 earth science-related field trips. GSN also maintains and distributes a list of earth science professionals available to volunteer as speakers to classes on a variety of topics in earth sciences and mineral resources. To obtain an application form for the Geological Society of Nevada field trip grant program or a copy of the Geological Society of Nevada Earth Science Speakers Bureau list, contact
De Banovich, Geological Society of Nevada
P.O. Box 12021
Reno, NV 89510-2921
(702) 323-3500 fax (702) 323-3599
deana@scs.unr.edu

Other Nevada programs that directly target Nevada students:

Camp FLEE (Future Leaders in Environmental Education) annually engages more than 100 5th-8th grade students, teachers, and pre-service teachers in a week-long summer multidisciplinary environmental education camp at Lake Tahoe. Here scientists instruct student groups in the acquisition and analysis of scientific data relevant to a particular environmental theme. Each student group prepares a creative display of the results of their project, incorporating science, language skills, art, music, and drama, which is presented to other student groups in a final camp program. For more information regarding Camp FLEE, contact
Pam Calhoun, Camp FLEE
P. O. Box 18448
Reno, NV 89511
(702) 853-9039

McCaw School of Mines simulated open pit and underground mine structure opened in 1996 on the grounds of Gordon McCaw elementary school in Henderson, Nevada. Here, McCaw students, clad in miners' gear, conduct guided tours for other Clark County students through the mine's hands-on earth science, mining history, and technology exhibits. The mine was planned, designed, and built by McCaw students and teachers and their partners in business, industry, local and state government, and education. For further information on field trips to and tours of McCaw School of Mines contact
Dr. Janet Dobry, principal
Gordon McCaw Elementary School
57 Lynn Lane
Henderson, NV 89015
(702) 799-8930

Many earth science educational materials have been developed as a result of partnering among state and federal agencies, industry, and academic institutions.

One is the NBMG Educational Series of more than twenty booklets on a variety of earth science topics including classroom mineral science and map activities, Nevada mining history, earthquakes, geothermal energy, and radon. Another is a series of geologic and natural history tour guidebooks published by NBMG. The first two guidebooks present detailed geologic road logs and scientific, cultural, and historical information for several short day trips in the areas surrounding Las Vegas and Reno. Additional guidebooks are planned for major highways in the state. They are designed not only for general public and tourist use, but also as source books for teachers to use in activities that integrate science, history, culture, and societal issues. For information on ordering NBMG publications including NBMG Educational Series and geologic tour guide books ( NBMG SP16: Geologic tours in the Las Vegas area, 1994; and NBMG SP19: Geologic and natural history tours in the Reno area, 1995) or to obtain a copy of the NBMG Publication List, visit our website or contact
Charlotte Stock
Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology/MS 178
University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557-0088
(702) 784-4415 ext. 2
fax (702) 784-1709
info@nbmg.unr.edu

The Project Mine Video Series was developed by Nevada Mining Association, Nevada Division of Minerals and the Clark County School District and consists of a binder of educational videos on the topics of matter, simple machines, history, geology, and careers with an accompanying teachers' guide of classroom activities. These materials are free to all Nevada schools and copies may be obtained by contacting the Nevada Mining Association at the address and phone number given above.

A recent grant to the W.M. Keck Museum will fund the addition of new educational material to the website that they are developing, including interactive activities, a "Mineral of the Month" feature, and other earth science resources activities for teachers to use in the classroom. Several other NBMG partners in earth science educational activity maintain World Wide Web websites which offer widely accessible educational information to the general public and valuable links to other earth science educational resources. These websites include

NBMG: www.nbmg.unr.edu
UNR Seismological Laboratory: www.seismo.unr.edu
Geological Society of Nevada: www.info-mine.com/assoc-inst/nevada/Welcome.html
Nevada Mining Association: www.nevadamining.org
Nevada Division of Minerals: www.state.nv.us/busi_industry/mineral/mineral.htm
U.S. Geological Survey Learning Web: www.usgs.gov/education

NBMG maintains a collection of common Nevada rocks and minerals for use by educators in presenting earth science study units to their classes or by speakers who need hands-on materials to illustrate their presentations to classes. Because our supply of such materials is frequently depleted, NBMG solicits donations of rocks and minerals from geologists, rockhounds, or anyone who would like to donate rocks and minerals for educational purposes.

NBMG also serves as the local source of USGS ESIC (Earth Science Information Center) materials which include teacher packets of maps and classroom curricula as well as brochures on all facets of earth science -- volcanoes, earthquakes, glaciers, topographic mapping, hydrology, and many other topics.

For further information regarding NBMG educational programs, USGS ESIC materials, to obtain rock and mineral specimens for classroom use, or to donate rock and mineral specimens to NBMG for classroom use, contact
D.D. La Pointe or David Davis
Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology/MS 178
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557-0088
(702) 784-6691 ext. 133 or 134
fax (702) 784-1709
dlapoint@nbmg.unr.edu or ddavis@nbmg.unr.edu