Increasing Visibility: K-12 Mentorship

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    Hi everyone,

    Wow, what a great forum thread, and great topics so far!

    I’m interested in discussing all the various ways in which we’re increasing visibility for women in paleontology, by helping to mentor and guide young women and kids at the K-12 level.

    For example, I teach at The Webb Schools / Alf Museum in Claremont, California, where we have the unique experience of meshing our classrooms with an accredited paleontology museum on campus. When I was a public school teacher, I used to bring in real invertebrate fossils, and collaborated with digital fossil projects to bring fossils to my kids, even when the collections themselves were far away.

    The majority of my students interested in paleontology have been women, but how to we keep this trend buffeted all the way up through college, grad school, and beyond?

    Looking forward to sharing ideas!

    Michelle Barboza

    Hi @taorminalepore, thanks for creating this new forum topic – I think there are a lot of people interested in contributing to this conversation!

    To all interested in learning about increasing visibility for K-12 students, especially in terms of role models and mentorship, a recent thread on the Women in Paleo: Spotlights topic ventured into these ideas. @egardner posted a link to an article entitled “Greater equality in science will take more than Ada Lovelace Day”  published recently on  Eleanor went on to say:

    The general gist of the article is that, to get and retain women in STEM, there has to be more than figurehead examples — more than just seeing a female scientist at events and such.  According to the article, a study conducted by faculty at Florida International University found that “having a woman physics teacher, reading about women in physics, and having a female guest speaker had no effect on [high school girls’] intention to enter the field.”  (I found that quite surprising, frankly!)

    I agree with her statement! I believe strongly in the importance of visibility and providing role models to students (and otherwise!). I think it is important to note that the article does not say that role models are of no use – it is trying to say that role models alone will not solve the problem of the STEM gender gap.

    I was reading a paper recently published by the Center for Research on Girls, titled Engaging Girls in STEM: Role Models. The paper emphasized the importance of, but also the difference between role models and mentors. Role models, the paper posits, are “lighthouses” which provide a steady point of reference, but are somewhat removed. Mentors, on the other hand, are actively engaged and connected to students, offering one on one guidance. So, perhaps one of the issues here is that while visibility is certainly important, its not enough to just hoist up images of women scientists, it is more crucial to create engagement and guidance between women scientists and young women.

    I linked the article above, and have also attached it as a pdf file. It’s short, sweet, and has some extra resources.

    Thoughts,  @taorminalepore @llundgren @gsantos @jeanette-pirlo @bmacfadden @mhendrickson @rnarducci ?

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    Lisa Lundgren

    Hi all! I think this might be a good place to discuss the event @sholte @michelle-barboza and I attended/tabled at today at the Florida Museum of Natural History. @sellis was there with iDigBio, too! The event was called She’s A Scientist! It’s a Girl Scout event that the museum hosts every year. This year, Sharon, Michelle, and I created a table that focused on doing activities from a badge (thanks, @egardner! ), the Rocks Rock! badge. Here’s the link to our photo album on Facebook, where you can see the six step process of the activity we did.

    Written out, the activity was

    1. Girl Scouts learn about the different types of rocks
    2. Girl Scouts learn about trace fossils by witnessing a certain trace fossil event (a T. rex stepping in “mud”)
    3. Girl Scouts create their own trace fossils to take home using model magic and 3D printed fossils
    4. Girl Scouts can view a powerpoint with photos of different women paleontologists, such as @sally-walker and @rnarducci
    5. Girl Scouts speak to a paleontologist about the gear you need to “be prepared” for paleontological work
    6. Girl Scouts talk a photo in a photo booth as the type of paleontologist they imagine themselves as.

    Has anyone else done an activity similar to this? Want to share your experiences?

    Eleanor Gardner

    I’m glad that a modified version of the activities for the (now retired :() Junior Girl Scout ‘Rocks Rock!’ badge was successful for this event.  I’ve led multiple ‘Rocks Rock!’ badge workshops in the past and I always found that girls really connected with the trace fossil activity.  (Although we used clay in the past — ModelMagic is much better because it dries faster. Good call, @llundgren!)

    Having been a Girl Scout leader for 4 years, I highly recommend doing the (also now retired :() “Digging Through the Past” badge for Cadette/Senior (6th – 9th grade) Girl Scouts.  With my troop, which was located in West Tennessee, I created a ‘dig pit’ of sorts containing sediment and fossils from the famous Late Cretaceous Coon Creek Lagerstatte.  The girls carefully collected the fossils, IDed them using a published guide, and then I taught them how to do basic prep and preservation.  I also modified an undergraduate intro paleo lab for the girls, so they could learn about taphonomy and preservation potential.  Additionally, we took a field trip to the natural history exhibits of the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis, TN, to learn more about the geology and paleontology of the Mid-South.

    , @cindy-lockner, @bonnie-cronin, @sgalligher – Have you done activities similar to these?  What gets kids (and those still young at heart!) the most excited?

    Eleanor Gardner

    I’d also like to recommend getting local undergrad / graduate students involved in these kinds of K-12 mentorship opportunities.  When I was leading the Girl Scout troop in West TN, I was lucky to have a supportive colleague in @mgibson at UT-Martin.  He helped mobilize the Sigma Gamma Epsilon geology honors society to run earth-science-related badge workshops with my girls.  I’m including a picture of Mike teaching the girls about regional fossils 🙂

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    Michael Gibson

    Thanks @egardner!  Yes, I would be happy to help anyone I can, in any way I can with fossils.  Drop me a line! While I do most of my work in West Tennessee, I do come to South Alabama during summers and am around the Jackson, MS area several times a year to work.  Kentucky and Missouri are not to far from my region as well!  We have a couple of sites, especially our Coon Creek fossil site, that can house groups overnight.

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    Michelle Barboza

    Hi everyone! As some of you know, the spring 2017 webinar series is specifically dedicated to Women in Paleontology. I’m super excited about this series, and I wanted to get your opinions on how we can make this series useful for and accessible to high school students (specifically juniors/seniors who are in the process of preparing for college and learning about career options).

    I’ve found that our Women in Paleo forum serves as a great resource for women who have already entered the field of paleontology, and our in person events like She’s A Scientist! and the Women in Paleo Fest are great for middle school students, and I think the webinar series could be a great way to engage our high school and early college audience.

    One way I thought we might entice students to tune in to the series is partnering with teachers to create a worksheet or something along those lines and make attendance worthy of extra credit? I need to look a little bit more into teaching standards/goals for 11-12 grades, but this is where I thought your input would be valuable.

    , @taorminalepore, @llundgren

    Eleanor Gardner

    Cool idea, @michelle-barboza!  I wonder if some members in our high school teacher cohort on myFOSSIL would have any ideas/recommendations? (See Michelle’s post above) @dellingson, @jbroo, @jbokor, @jayson-kowinsky, @dbutler, @cindy-kern, @deborah-kravchuk, @mary-spilman

    And personally, I think middle school girls would benefit from this too!  Do our middle school teacher cohort members have any input? @acurrier, @mhendrickson, @laura-amatulli, @julie-niederkorn, @terri-baroch, @skillingsworth, @matthew-croxton

    Julie Bokor

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) chapters at the high schools? This idea reminds me of TED talks. There are some worksheets out there that are usable for any TED talk. Perhaps something like that could be developed? @egardner @llundgren  @michelle-barboza



    Lisa Lundgren

    @jbokor Yes, WISE groups at the HS level would be awesome. I wonder if this is something that can be done? The UF WISE group is pretty strong, it’d probably be able to pilot it?…We have some Gainesville teachers affiliated with FLMNH (right, @jeanette-pirlo ?)

    Great to know that there are TED Talks worksheets! I bet they could serve as a model. I searched and found a link to a worksheet: Is this the one you were thinking of, Julie? Or are there a lot of different ones out there?

    I think the previous webinars that are up on the videos and tutorials page could also be utilized in this, too, although maybe they would be more focused on content versus the mentoring and career options piece.

    @taorminalepore @gsantos

    Tynessa Morgan

    @llundgren, @jeanette-pirlo, @jbokor, @kate-griener – I have a group of 6 fifth and sixth graders that are all girls so we kind of have a WISE group of our own. I teach it in a way that touches their imaginations. I know that there is controversy surrounded the idea of learning styles, but I still get amazing successes by getting the kids out of their chairs. I would be glad to pilot a program in the Dallas area next school year.

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