Thirty Texas Teachers Discover Experiential Learning At G-Camp

By: Tamunews Email
By: Tamunews Email

As hoards of school children head to camp this summer, 30 Texas teachers will be doing the same. But instead of spending two weeks canoeing or weaving baskets, these teachers will be balancing on an outcrop, scrambling up the slope of a volcano, exploring the footwall of a fault and hiking in spectacular glacial valleys along pristine flowing streams.

The teachers will do all this and more at G-Camp, a geology field camp where teachers experience the geology of the Southwest under the tutelage of faculty in the Department of Geology & Geophysics at Texas A&M University.

In its second year, "G-Camp for Teachers" will take selected fourth- through 12th-grade teachers on a 3,600-mile bus trip through Texas, New Mexico and Colorado July 11 - 27.

Given the enthusiastic comments of last year’s campers, organizers say these teachers are sure to love every minute of it.

“G-Camp was an educational experience of a lifetime,” said Jeri Grogan, an eighth-grade science teacher in Nacogdoches who attended last year’s inaugural "G-Camp for Teachers." “I was able to look at our natural resources through the eyes of a real geologist, not through the eyes of a textbook publisher. All science teachers in the state of Texas should be allowed to experience the world of geology through this hands-on, dig-in-the-dirt, geology field camp!”

G-Camp is an outreach program of the Department of Geology & Geophysics in the Texas A&M College of Geosciences. "G-Camp for Teachers" takes teachers on a geology field trip to study significant geological features of the Southwest and to develop skills and curriculum resources to use in sharing their experience with students. Organizers say plans are to eventually offer "G-Camp for Students" as well, which will take incoming freshmen on a similar trip for which they can earn course credit.

The officials say the goal of G-Camp is threefold: to increase the geosciences workforce by ensuring quality teaching of the geosciences in grades four through 12, to attract motivated young people to professions in the geosciences and to provide all students with quality educational opportunities.

Science teachers from around the state applied for the 30 openings. Applicants submitted essays on why they wanted to gain this knowledge, how they intended to use it in their classrooms and how they would share it with fellow teachers. They also submitted letters of recommendation from their principals, district science coordinators and colleagues, and they had to commit to participating in three follow-up workshops.

Preference was given to applicants from schools in economically depressed areas of Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. A selection committee chose 11 elementary, eight middle-school and 11 high school teachers to participate.

This summer’s program is being underwritten by industry partners BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Hess. It also received partial support from the Texas A&M University Regional Collaborative for Excellence in Science Teaching. The only expense for the teachers is the cost of tuition for those who elect to receive three hours of graduate credit for the course. Expenses for travel, lodging and meals are covered.

“We’re really excited about our second G-Camp,” said Geology & Geophysics Professor J.R. (Rick) Giardino, who developed the program. “We took our dream to reality last year and are looking forward to doing even more with this year’s group. A new addition will be having the teachers develop a series of virtual field trips with photos and video from our travels as well as maps, aerial photographs, Google images and data collected in the field. That way each teacher will have a series of virtual field trips for students to use in studying geology.

"We think these virtual field trips will be the next best thing to actually being in the field. They will be interactive and will create excitement about the dynamic processes that shape Earth. These virtual field trips will also be posted online as a resource for all Texas teachers and others to use.”

Doctoral student Kevin Gamache is coordinating the virtual field trip project. He has also set up a G-Camp blog site at .

"G-Camp for Teachers 2009" will first stop at Canyon Lake Gorge and then travel to Enchanted Rock and on to the Delaware Basin in West Texas. In New Mexico, campers will examine recent lava flows at Valley of the Fires, a cinder cone at Capulin National Monument and modern aeolian environments at White Sands. Other activities in New Mexico include visiting Carlsbad National Park and traveling along the Rio Grande Trench from Santa Fe to Taos.

G-Campers will study numerous geological features in Colorado, including an ancient barrier island complex at Raton Pass, the Laramide tectonic features and volcanic landforms at Spanish Peaks, and an extensive thrust fault along La Veta Pass. Other stops include the Great Sand Dune in the San Luis Valley, the Slumgullion mud flow in Lake City, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, and to Ouray, where they will explore glacial erosion, additional volcanic deposits and an active underground mine.

Giardino and Geology & Geophysics Professor Jack Vitek will lead "G-Camp for Teachers " 2009 along with Carolyn Schroeder, who is a research associate in the College of Science’s Center for Mathematics and Science Education, and coordinating teacher Mary Boltezar, a fifth-grade science teacher from Bryan Independent School District. Geoscience graduate assistants Gamache and Adam Lee will participate as well.

Several industry representatives and guest lecturers will lead sessions throughout the trip. Retired geologist Bill Ward and former student Lyle Baie, a 1967 Texas A&M graduate, will lead a tour of Canyon Lake Gorge. Baie earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Oceanography and served as executive director of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. While in Ouray, former geology student William Ibáñez ’93 will share information with campers on the importance of environmental management to industry and career opportunities in the geosciences. Ibáñez, who earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in geology, is a geosciences technical team leader at ExxonMobil Development Company and active in its teacher mentoring program. Also at Ouray, former student, George Moore ’62, who earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in geology at Texas A&M, will discuss Colorado’s mining history. Ronald Kaiser, program chair of the Water Degree Program at Texas A&M University, will help campers understand water
resource issues when they visit Lake City.

“The enthusiasm for this program among science teachers has just been phenomenal,” Giardino said, “as has the interest shown by our industry partners both through financial support and active participation.”

“The geosciences encompass several vital and growing industries that need qualified, well-educated young people to join their ranks,” he added. “We recognize the tremendous impact teachers have on students. By getting teachers excited about the geosciences, we know we can get a lot more students excited and interested in pursuing careers in these fields.”

For more information on G-Camp visit the program Web site at .

"G-Camp for Teachers" 2009 Participants

Teachers Grade Level Location

Marylou Carter 11 Burleson

Niki Fisher 7 Carrollton

Swati Shah 5 Dallas

Valerie Thomas 9 Dallas

Jan Wilson K-5 Mesquite

Becca Branom 4 Plano

Anginell Anderson K-5 Richardson

Stacey Welch K-5 Richardson

Kathey Hoover 10-12 Wylie

L. Stef Paramoure 6-8 New Braunfels

Javier DeHoyas 3-5 San Antonio

Thomas Delgado 9-12 San Antonio

Denise Petter 4 San Antonio

Rissa Springs 9-12 Seguin

Kathy Naylor 4-8 Pawnee

Chris Karaguleff 11-12 Austin

John Cooper Reed 10-12 Killeen

Patricia Wyman 9-12 Killeen

Debbie Mahan 6-12 Pflugerville

Jill Elliott 9-12 Round Rock

Debbie Clark 7 Crosby

Lauren Clancy 5 Pearland

Katie LeDoux 8 Spring

Rosa Beck K-5 Spring Branch

Dawn Burbach K-5 Harlingen

Lora Carolan 9-11 Huntsville

Mindy Richardson 9-12 Pollok

Jenny Wallace 6 Whitehouse

Maria Godinez 4-5 Bryan

Racquel Tamez 7 Hempstead

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