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Camp extends teachers' geology knowledge

News|HOUSTON, Texas, U.S.|

A longtime Saudi Aramco-sponsored program assisted 36 U.S. science teachers in combining practical knowledge about geology with their classroom studies during an annual geology camp this summer.

Known as “G-Camp” (Geology Camp), the decade-long program partners Saudi Aramco with Texas A&M University to give teachers the unique opportunity to embark on a geological dig throughout the southwestern region of the United States.

“As a lead sponsor of the program, Saudi Aramco is a natural fit — since geology and unlocking the secrets of the Earth’s crust to meet our consumers’ energy needs are at the core of our business. It’s been our mission for the past 80-plus years,” said Jack Moore, director of Aramco Services Company’s Washington, D.C., office.

G-Camp also highlights Aramco’s dedication to STEM education programs (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) worldwide. Besides the G-Camp program, Aramco also sponsors the iExplore science program for fifth-grade teachers and students at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The idea of both programs is to equip teachers with new techniques to keep students interested in STEM-related fields.

Hands-on learning

The teachers, representing grades 5-12, were selected from throughout the U.S. and spent 18 days on a geological journey through Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico. Along the way, the teachers created science lessons to share with their students back in the classroom. They worked on developing curriculum material, virtual field trips for their students, and participated in hands-on outdoor learning to identify the processes that form and shape the surface of the earth.

The teachers viewed beautiful land forms, including the Great Sand Dunes, an area of large sand dunes up to 750 feet high in south-central Colorado, Taos Gorge and Valles Caldera, a 13.7-mile wide volcanic caldera in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. Among the different geological features explored were ancient marine deposits, faults, glacial landscapes, streams, landslides, energy resources, and mineral resources.

Rick Giardino and Carolyn Schroeder — faculty at Texas A&M University’s Department of Geology and Geosciences — founded the camp in 2007 and have served as advisers and mentors for the science teachers.

Giardino started the program because he wanted to give teachers, who do not necessarily have an extensive background in geology, an opportunity to gain more hands-on experience and better equip them to teach their students.

“Teachers come here, and we introduce them to the principles and basics of geology. They get to touch it. They get to taste it. They experience it,” Giardino said.

ASC geoscientist travels with group

Timothy Diggs, a senior geological consultant at Aramco Services Company, also traveled for four days with the G-Camp participants through New Mexico. “It was important for a geoscientist to go and give the teachers an industry perspective on some of the things they were seeing in the field because a lot of the information is only seen from an academic standpoint,” he said.

Diggs focuses on technology reconnaissance to help Saudi Aramco increase productivity and efficiency. With an extensive background in geology, he was thrilled to join the teachers on the trip.

“Our knowledge of the various aspects complemented one another, and as a result, it was a great learning experience for everyone,” he said.

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