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Contact: Tim Woodhull

September 20, 2000


California State University, Dominguez Hills, joins effort to expand interest in earth sciences to K-12 teachers and students

California State University, Dominguez Hills, has joined a team of educators and scientists geared to teach the earth sciences to K-12 teachers and — ultimately — to millions of schoolchildren.

One goal of the Augmented Learning Environment and Renewable Teaching (ALERT) is to provide students and their families the necessary information to understand the value of nurturing natural resources.

Propelled by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration through the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Ames Research Center and the California State University, a second goal is to reverse the decline of students enrolled in the Earth Sciences.

Some educators suspect that the drop-off may stems from the increased shift in emphasis in education: Nowadays, they say, teachers and advisors focus more on literacy and test scores in such subjects as mathematics and English — and less on the arts, social sciences, and earth sciences.

To reverse that trend, educators and scientists huddled in 1994 at JPL to discuss education strategies. Their aim: Promote awareness, appreciation and understanding of the earth to millions of students and families.

They decided on various strategies to accomplish those goals. Key among those, they agreed:

"The whole idea is to get to as many students as possible to instruct them and interest them in the earth sciences," Hay says. "To do that, we will teach teachers. They will learn earth sciences here, then relay the word to their students."

For example, the university is introducing K-12 teachers to Earth Sciences programs however possible — with posters about El Niño, with CD ROMs about oceans, with satellite imagery of California, and at the CSUDH Space Sciences Resource Center..

In addition, Dominguez Hills and nine other CSU campuses are creating web-based exercises for K-12 teachers, and each CSU is a partnering a university professor with a scientist from JPL or Ames to bolster the effort.

Further information about ALERT can be obtained by contacting Rodrick A. Hay, associate professor, Earth Sciences, and CSUDH ALERT coordinator, at (310) 243-3385.