November 7, 2012 by Dr. G
Today was the last day of the 2012 Geological Society of America annual meeting. I always have mixed feelings at the end of conferences. I’m typically exhausted (mentally and physically), overwhelmed thinking about all the emails and meetings back on campus to catch up on, and actually sad that I will be leaving the place that allowed me to immerse myself in all things geology with wonderful geology colleagues. But, I’m leaving this conference inspired by some amazing presentations, energized to get back to my classroom and share what I’ve learned with my students, and motivated to continue to publish some of my geoscience education work.
I spent the entire morning (8AM to 12:30PM) in one session, titled “Teaching Teachers: Examples of Successful Geoscience Content Courses and Workshops for Pre-Service and In-Service Teachers.” As I’m a Co-Principal Investigator on a National Science Foundation grant that works with in-service teachers, it was interesting to hear what other universities are doing for programming to help K-12 teachers learn and teach geology.
During the lunch hour, myself and a number of conference attendees packed into one of the convention center ballrooms to hear a panel discussion called GSA Lunchtime Lecture #4: “What do the Election Results Mean for Science?” The session had a Republican lawyer and a George Washington University professor (I’m sure representing the Democratic side) that were going over what the re-election of President Obama means for the future of science funding and climate discussions. Overall, both sides agreed that the future does not look good. Although the President is very passionate and honest about his beliefs in building up the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teachers, students, and career fields, science just isn’t a priority for the country right now – as we are recovering from Hurricane Sandy, about to go off a fiscal cliff, etc. This all makes me nervous for the future support of scientific research and the advancement of all science disciplines.
After lunch, I headed to the session where I had my final presentation, a session called “Undergraduate Research as Teaching Practice.” Mentoring undergraduate research projects, whether classroom-based or as an independent study, is the part of being a faculty member I am most passionate about. And hearing about what my colleagues are doing at other institutions was really exciting. I left this session with some great ideas about doing research with first-semester freshmen, the importance of field-based geoscience work, etc. I was a co-author on Meagen Pollock’s presentation on Enhancing Undergraduate Research with Social Media, and then I followed her with my presentation on Community-Based Research Projects with Podcasting in Introductory-Level Geoscience Courses.
Amazingly, the nor’easter that moved in after Hurricane Sandy did not keep me away from flying home – that’s twice I have been very lucky with travel! Will I be just as lucky for my next conference, the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco in December???