KF Teacher Attends Geology Camp

KF Teacher Attends Geology Camp
Posted on 09/04/2019
Local Teacher Has ‘Experience of a Lifetime’ In Cross-Country Geology Camp

Suffolk, August 7, 2019 -- Learning geology in a classroom and laboratory is key to understanding and teaching Earth systems, but experiencing geology first-hand in the field is a whole different story. Instead of chalkboards on walls, wide-open vistas fill your eyes. Instead of typing notes on a keyboard, your hiking boots slide and skid on slick clays, and your hand reaches for a rock ledge that holds millions of years of history in its layers. 

There’s nothing like experiencing the extraordinary features of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison or cave deposits for the first time, and each summer for the last eleven years Texas A&M University’s College of Geosciences has given that opportunity to STEM educators from throughout Texas and the United States.

This year, Steve Marshall, an oceanography teacher at King’s Fork High School in Suffolk, was one of the lucky 30 educators participating in G-Camp for Teachers, which took 30 fifth through 12th grade teachers on a three-week field experience through the Southwest U.S. 

“This was one of the most amazing trips I have been on.  To be able to see first-hand many of the features and concepts we teach about instills an enthusiasm and knowledge that can be transferred to the students with more exciting and hands-on activities derived from the experience.  To be able to match a rock sample to a picture to a map to a story, all taken or collected personally will help the students to relate more to the lesson,” Marshall said.

This summer’s itinerary began June 27 and concluded July 15, and included adventures everywhere from the slopes of volcanoes, to the footwalls of faults, in the depths of glacial valleys, on the toes of landslides, and at the boundary that was partly responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, Dr. Rick Giardino said. 

“The most exciting part of the trip for me were the canyons we visited.  To think of how long they take to form is overwhelming, and the ability to walk right to the edge of a 2,000 foot cliff and look down was both awe-inspiring and a little unnerving both at the same time,” Marshall said.

Participants studied geological features and also developed curricula as they traversed Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado, from some locations near sea level to those higher than 12,000 feet. 

“Through astounding vistas and sights, such as Capulin Volcano National Monument, White Sands National Monument, and the K-Pg boundary created when a meteorite stuck Earth resulting in the extinction of dinosaurs, we map Earth’s geological history,” said Dr. Rick Giardino, the professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Texas A&M who developed and leads G-Camp.

Saudi Aramco is the lead sponsor of G-Camp, and the company has continually supported G-Camp for many years. Generous donations from Chevron also help support G-Camp. Attendees only have to pay for their transportation to College Station; once they arrive in Aggieland, their food, housing, and travel costs for the entire three weeks are covered by the program. 

“My motto for the camp is, show and teach them a lot, keep them busy and you’ll never have a complaint,” Giardino said. “So far, our participants have proved me right. Teachers spend 12-hour days in an exhausting but exhilarating whirlwind of learning. They keep a daily field book of sketches, measurements and general observations, and develop lesson plans each night.”
Post-trip, many participants share and present their knowledge and experiences to other teachers within their districts and at state and national meetings.

“I am humbled by our teachers’ ability to translate their G-Camp experiences into life-changing opportunities for their students, and ultimately igniting their students’ passion to pursue science as a career path,” said Dr. Debbie Thomas, Dean of the College of Geosciences. “I am in constant awe of Dr. Giardino’s boundless energy and drive to provide life-changing professional development opportunities for our teachers.”  

Media contact: Leslie Lee, Communications Coordinator, College of Geosciences, (979) 845-0910, leslielee@tamu.edu.

Geology Camp 2019
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