Nevada's Climate Change High School Science Fair network

Affiliation(s)PIProject periodFunded by
DEES Buck, Paul E 10/01/2010 - 09/30/2012 National Science Foundation

Project Description

The Nevada Climate Change High School Science Fair Network will create a collaboration between diverse high school students, their classroom teachers, and Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) faculty to use geosciences data focused on climate change science in the development of Intel International Science and Engineering (ISEF) quality high school science fair research projects. The ISEF is the most prestigious high school science fair in the world, but Nevada geoscience projects have been infrequent and have seldom been highly ranked. The collaboration will leverage a recent large NSF EPSCoR award to Nevada (the Climate change infrastructure research and education award, hereafter "climate change award" ) to: 1) dramatically improve teachers understanding of climate change science; 2) substantially increase the quantity and quality of high school science fair projects based on climate change science being submitted to Nevada ISEF-affiliated science fairs; 3) improve students chances of passing the Nevada state high school proficiency exam in science; 4) expand Nevada's climate change research community into rural schools and schools with large numbers of underrepresented students. 30 high school teachers will participate in a statewide video-conference workshop describing the research goals of the climate change award; best practices in classroom inquiry and problem-based learning, and Intel ISEF procedures. They will visit soon-to-be-installed state of the art environmental monitoring stations designed to monitor any effects of climate change on Nevada and have real-time access to data from those stations (the stations and cyberinfrastructure are funded by the climate change award). A network of faculty with expertise in climate change research, geosciences and related disciplines will be provided to these teachers and students to create quality science fair projects. These teachers will be able to complete a graduate level on-line course in climate change science during their participation. These teachers, from a variety of high schools around Nevada including rural schools and schools with up to 94% underrepresented students, will recruit and mentor 150 students to complete Intel ISEF quality science fair projects with emphasis on climate change science. These students will submit science fair projects to one of three regional ISEF-affiliated science fairs in Nevada during the two years of the project, and if judged to be of high enough quality, some may be recommended to the Intel ISEF in 2012 and 2013. These high school graduates will be excellent candidates for geoscience courses and degree programs of the NSHE, and their admission will increase the numbers and diversity of undergraduate students in the geosciences in Nevada Intellectual merit. Quality high school science fair projects using problem-based learning can help students understand the nature of science, retain fundamental geoscience concepts longer to help them pass the high school proficiency exam in science, engage students and teachers in a research community, and create a pool of diverse students for geoscience programs at Nevada colleges. We will leverage our existing climate change award and a privately funded start-up high school science fair coaches program; expand and diversify the science teachers participating by reaching out to rural schools and other schools with high minority populations. While doing so we will recruit more and more diverse students into NSHE geoscience courses and degree programs. We will seek external funding to sustain the program, using a well established model of the Community Environmental Monitoring Program a successful program operated by DRI for the US Dept. of Energy for the last 30 years Broader impacts. This proposed project partners researchers and educators to develop effective means of incorporating research into learning and education. The proposed program will specifically recruit high school students from underrepresented groups and rural areas and give them and their teachers a unique opportunity to be competitive in regional, national and international science fairs focused on the geosciences with special emphasis on climate change science. We seek teachers from schools with high populations of minority students with the goal of providing resources to complete high quality science fair projects, and recruit them to Nevada colleges and universities to earn geoscience degrees. By creating a research community focused round our new climate change award, we hope to increase the numbers of minority students taking geoscience classes and enrolling in geoscience degree programs. This project may provide a model for developing talented diverse undergraduates for geosciences programs by engaging them in a research community and through locally relevant climate change issues.