The University Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) has launched a new outreach initiative in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin. This new program, GeoFORCE Alaska, is designed to increase the number and diversity of students pursuing STEM degree programs and entering the future high-tech workforce. It uses Earth science as a hook because most kids get excited about dinosaurs, volcanoes, and earthquakes, but it includes physics, chemistry, math, biology and other sciences. Students are recruited in the 8th grade and then remain in the program for all four years of high school. They must maintain a B or better average to participate in GeoFORCE events, culminating in an exciting week-long field event each summer. Over the four-year period, they will travel to Fairbanks, Arizona, Oregon, and the Appalachians. All trips focus on Earth science and include a 100+ page guidebook, with tests every night culminating with a final exam.
The Texas program, with adjustments for differences in culture and environment, is being replicated in Alaska beginning with the first cohort of 40 rising ninth graders during the summer of 2012. The program will continue to add a new cohort of ninth graders each year for the next four years. By the summer of 2015, the program will reach capacty of 160 students in grades 9 through 12.
GeoFORCE Alaska is forming partnerships with companies that will benefit not only from the community outreach aspects of the program, but potentially as employers of GeoFORCE students who ultimately graduate with applicable degrees. This follows the approach taken by the Texas program in which these partnerships have included not only funding, but participation by company personnel in summer field events, as mentors, and as providers of internships once the students reach college.
GeoFORCE Alaska 9th Grade Academy (July 21 – 28, 2012)
"With geology professors from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Texas at Austin, the 16 students traveled 1,018 miles by bus to visit the Permafrost Tunnel in Fox, the Healy coal deposits, Denali National Park, Portage Glacier, Matanuska Glacier and the Denali Fault." Read the rest of the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer article »
The launch of the GeoFORCE Alaska program was also mentioned in a Fairbanks Daily Newsminer editorial. Read the article »
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