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BEST: Bridge and Earth Science Training Detailed Summary

Announcing the BEST program

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jesse Carlucci

Geoscience Outreach Coordinator: Ms. Raddiete Ghion (raddiete.ghion@mwsu.edu)

In response to educational and workforce needs, Midwestern State University (MSU) is undertaking the Bridge and Earth Science Training (BEST) Program. The goal of the BEST Program is to increase the number of undergraduates at MSU pursuing a geoscience major by engaging students in authentic, career-relevant experiences.

Through these sustained and catalytic experiences, the BEST Program will develop students’

  • expertise in the geosciences
  • enhance their professional skills
  • increase their access to professional networks
  • demonstrably deepen their interest in, and knowledge of, geoscience career pathways.

The BEST Program will include components which will (1) aid pre-college students to transition more effectively into undergraduate geoscience programs; (2) attract additional new freshman geoscience students to MSU; (3) foster community collaboration with existing geoscience institutions in North Texas; and (4) provide a long-lasting, catalytic experience for BEST scholars. Through these components, the following objectives will be met:

  1. Establish connections and infrastructure to support students as they transfer from high school to college.
  2. Expose students to career opportunities in the geosciences and provide information about the role of professional geoscientists in society.
  3. Develop student interest in the geosciences through authentic research participation and experiential learning.

As an Earth Science course is not required for graduation from high school in Texas, many students, and their parents, teachers, and guidance counselors are less likely to be knowledgeable about the variety of geosciences careers. Students may also lack exposure to any geoscience educators during their high school experience. BEST is a new high school bridge and outreach program between North Texas high schools and MSU, which educates students, teachers, counselors, and parents about the geosciences as well the opportunities for geoscience careers.

The first component of the BEST Program is an inquiry-based residential geoscience camp each summer. A cohesive, long-term cohort of high school juniors and seniors will learn how geoscientists apply scientific concepts to real world problems. During this 7-10 day experience, the BEST Program will focus on developing the relationship between the student, MSU geoscience faculty, local geoscience professionals, and current MSU students who will serve as BEST Camp counselors. Field trips to workplaces and laboratories reinforce this link and provide additional exposure to the role of geoscientists in the real world.

Cohort members will be invited to attend MSU as a geosciences major, where they will have the opportunity to continue their research as a part of their undergraduate experience. During the first semester, the cohort will engage in geoscience data gathering and analysis activities, present to and meet with professionals involved in similar work, and share their experiences with other students. Students’ data will be integrated into pre-existing curricula through the development of new laboratory exercises.

BEST is supported by the National Science Foundation, Division of Integrative and Collaborative Education and Research (ICER) Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE), through award ICER-1700851.              

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