National Association of Geoscience Teachers
Southeastern Section Newsletter
Email Edition - Winter /Spring 2004
     
The President's Report    


The SENAGT membership consists of 8 states, so it is rather distressing that in the 2003 OEST competition, only three nominations were submitted (TN, NC, GA). Here in Alabama, we have been trying to find suitable candidates for the award, but despite our efforts, no teachers have come forward to nominate themselves or colleagues. This is NOT because Alabama lacks worthy nominees. It is because most teachers do not know that the OEST award exists. For that matter, few teachers are aware of the SENAGT or the NAGT and the services that we can provide. It would be nice if we could attribute this to a simple problem (e.g., poor advertising on our part), but the truth is likely more complex than that. In Alabama, David C. Kopaska-Merkel once directly invited a teacher to apply for the award and even offered to help write up the application package. That attempt to attract an OEST nominee also failed. In Seattle, Doug had a pleasant breakfast with Michael Gibson (current TN representative and NAGT Councilor-at-Large as well as a past SENAGT president) who informed him that the situation that we were experiencing in Alabama was very similar to what they were going through in TN several years before. Tennessee is now the most active state in the SENAGT. Their OEST nominees are usually decided by the science teachers themselves rather than being appointed by SENAGT reps, and they regularly win the regional competition. The TN nominee did so again in 2003. So over breakfast on an overcast day in a city on the other side of the country, Doug asked Michael what they did to change things. The answer was “leg work”. In Tennessee, a couple of dedicated individuals attended every state science teachers meeting that they could. They also went to other meetings that regularly attracted teachers. They offered workshops in areas in which the teachers needed help. They offered field trips to interesting geological sites. They started slowly, but after a while, teachers started counting on these workshops and field trips at their meetings. Word of mouth did their advertising for them and more and more workshops had to be added to satisfy demand. Not only did they improve geoscience training for their teachers, they developed the “critical mass” needed so that the teachers themselves could form their own Earth sciences network. The rest, shall we say, is history. The Tennessee experience should be a model for the rest of the states in the SENAGT. We certainly intend to follow it for Alabama and we firmly believe that it can be done in this state. We have a very good geoscience education network here that is largely spearheaded by geologists at the Geological Survey of Alabama. David and I would like to encourage the other southeastern states (at least those having the same difficulties as Alabama) to also consider applying the Tennessee model to their states. All of us need to get more active in geoscience education. It will prove to be time consuming, so it is absolutely vital that each state has representatives (notice that this word is pluralized) that can stay proactive in terms of geoscience education.

Speaking of state representative, the 2004 regional meeting of the SE/NE GSA will be held near Washington in late March. We will have our SENAGT annual business meeting from 12:00 noon to 1:30 PM on Friday March 26th in the Woodlawn Room of the conference hotel. We cordially invite all members of the SENAGT (especially state reps) to attend the meeting. We will use the time to discuss the NAGT’s master plan as well as future sponsorship of theme sessions, workshops and field trips for the 2005 SEGSA meeting planned for Biloxi, MS.

Doug Haywick and David C. Kopaska-Merkel

 

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Summer-Fall 2004 Newletter Deadline: July 31, 2004. Please send news, items, questions, & answers to sdunagan@utm.edu

     
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