Thirty American science teachers recently went on an educational trek across the southwestern U.S. in a geology program that combines classroom learning with real world experiences sponsored by Houston-based Aramco Services Company (ASC).
Founded in 2007, the annual Geology Camp (G-Camp) is a Texas A&M University program investing in the professional development of teachers, and in turn, enriching the classroom experience for students. “I could not have asked for a better teaching laboratory than this field camp,” said Bonnie Keller, a G-Camp participant from Virginia.
Trip of a lifetime
Teachers for grades 5-12 from all around the U.S. traveled to College Station, Texas and spent 17 days trekking to national parks in Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico.
Along the way, they learned about geologic mapping, gathered rock specimens for their classrooms, and visited sites of geologic phenomena. During the journey, the group started at 300 feet above sea level and ascended to altitudes of more than 12,000 feet.
Texas A&M University’s Rick Giardino (geomorphology), and Mike Pope (carbonate sedimentology), Department of Geology and Geophysics, selected locations designed to equip teachers with knowledge to meet national school curriculum standards.
For four days, Timothy Diggs, a senior geological consultant with ASC Upstream, joined G-Camp participants to offer industry insights. “Aramco is very passionate about having students develop through time to become potential geoscientists in any number of fields,” said Diggs. “G-Camp is part of Aramco’s extensive efforts to support and enable STEM education programs around the world to empower the next generation of researchers and scientists.”
Alumni form strong bonds, online ‘G-Camp’ community
Giardino joked that G-Camp is infectious, saying the goal is to infect teachers with “geological enthusiasm.”
Science teachers in the U.S. are expected to teach a year of geology, which can be a daunting task since college curriculums typically do not go beyond a three-hour geology focused course.
Giardino added that his favorite part about G-Camp is interacting with the teachers and watching their passion for the subject grow.
“The fact that they give up a part of their summer vacation to come out here and learn how to better nurture their students — shows a lot of dedication to what they do.”
Aramco has been a major sponsor of G-Camp for more than a decade. The program’s popularity with teachers and alumni has resulted in the creation of an active online social media community through Facebook.
With more than 30 teachers instructing hundreds of students each year, G-Camp has influenced tens of thousands of students — perhaps future geoscientists — and counting.