University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations

October 11, 2006
Contact: Jennifer Z. Ekman, USA Office of Public Relations, (251) 460-6360

USA Enhances Public School Science Instruction with Teacher Training, Classroom Geology Kits

Faculty and students in the University of South Alabama department of earth sciences have created the state’s most comprehensive rock and sediment kits for use in area public schools.

USA faculty and students will train teachers to use these kits to teach geology to students from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12 at the all-purpose room on the first floor of Baker High School, 8901 Airport Boulevard.

The “Alabama Rocks!” kits contain a comprehensive collection, with three separate boxes for northern, central and southern Alabama specimens. They offer samples of rocks and sediments, such as sand from Dauphin Island, to help teachers explain the rock cycle to their students.

Dr. Douglas Haywick, an associate professor in USA’s Department of Earth Sciences, says the kits are just part of an overall effort by USA to support public school teachers.

“We are here to support them,” he said. “We’ve got to get their confidence up and let them know they can do it, and that there’s a phone call they can make to get support from us.”

Haywick also said students need to learn about geology and the rock cycle in order to appreciate the environmental concerns they will face in the future, including problems associated with global warming and water shortages.

Each specimen in the Alabama Rocks! kit includes information on its location, age and composition, and it is related to the geological maps included in the kits. There also are suggested teaching activities for the middle and high school sciences classes.

The specimens were selected so that teachers could use them to teach geological components of the Earth sciences curriculum that is required in middle and high school sciences classes.

The project is funded by a grant from Legacy Partners in Environmental Education Inc., a Montgomery-based group, as well as support from USA geology faculty, students and alumni. Other partners in the project include: The Geological Survey of Alabama; University of South Alabama Bookstore; and the Geological Research Fund of the USA Department of Earth Sciences.

Initially, the project hoped to provide kits for classrooms in Mobile and Baldwin counties. With help from the partners in the project, the kits will be distributed to classrooms in Mobile, Baldwin, Clarke, Monroe and Washington Counties, as well as Thomasville City.

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