Exposing students to geosciences
Twenty-three high achieving students who will enter ninth grade in the new school year have been engaged in the Bahamas Geoscience Academy with a goal to increase the number and diversity of high school graduates entering STEM (science technology, engineering and mathematics) fields through exposure to the geosciences.
Through the program, the students are expected to engage in learning experiences that will broaden their understanding of the earth and emphasize geosciences and engineering; build a large cohort of high achievers; and give students the tools, confidence and motivation to pursue college.
Students were selected from public schools on New Providence, Grand Bahama and Long Island for the free program with plans to expand to other Family Islands in the future.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas, worked together to bring the opportunity to Bahamian students; funding was also provided by Bahamas Petroleum Corp., Roxanna Oil Company and a private donor.
GeoForce currently operates in inner city Houston and rural southwest Texas. Each summer for four years, the students will be taken on a geologic field trips across Texas and throughout the United States.
The first cohort of Bahamian students recently returned from Austin, Texas, where they studied sedimentary processes in the Austin, Texas area and on New Providence.
In their sophomore year, the Bahamian students are expected to travel to Arizona and Utah, where they will visit the Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks to study layered rocks and geologic time. In their junior year they are expected to visit the Pacific Northwest and study tectonics and volcanic rocks; and visit Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Newberry Crater and Crater Lake. The senior year trip it is anticipated would return to the Caribbean.
Annually a new cohort begins. After four years, the Academy expects 80 to 100 Bahamian students to be in the program.
As of Fall 2014, the Geoscience Academy had six cohorts (487 students) in college. And GeoForce had a 100 percent high school graduation rate and a 98 percent matriculation rate, with 90 percent of their students on track to receive a degree in six years.