Friday, May 2, 2014

Instructional Support Technician-Life Science position at Modesto Junior College

The Science, Math, & Engineering  department  at Modesto  Junior College has opened an Instructional Support Technician – Life Sciences  position for recruitment. To view this position and/or apply please access the link below:

Recruitment for this position will close on Wednesday, May 21, 2014  at 11:59 pm.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Do we have a serious problem with Earth Science in California?

A Note from Wendy Van Norden, the far west section director of NESTA...

Dear Earth Science Educator,

Is there a crisis in California Earth Science?

I received an email from a teacher about the Earth Science crisis that she was seeing in her school district. (see letter below)
That prompted me to wonder, is there a state-wide problem, and what, if anything, can we do about it? 

First, let us compile some data.  I have written a survey, could you please take it? 

Please forward this survey to other Earth Science High School and Middle School  teachers in California so that we can gather as much data as possible. 

When I have compiled the results of the survey,  I will get back to you, and we will discuss how we may best address any concerns that we find. 

Wendy Van Norden
NESTA  Far West Director
Harvard-Westlake School
Studio City, CA 91604
818 487-6665

Letter from an earth science teacher

I attended a training yesterday given by our school district administration. During the training, we talked about the fact that the formula used to allot funds from the state to individual school districts will be changing. One of the criteria for receiving funds will be the number of high school students in the district that are enrolled in what are called "a-g" classes. Basically, these are the classes that CA universities look at when admitting students to the system.

To put it simply, earth science is not considered an "a-g" course. Only biology, physics, and chemistry are what they consider "d" lab-science courses. We tried to get our earth science classes as a "g" requirement (elective) but the university board denied it because they insisted on an algebra prerequisite. We could try to get a "d" geology course but it wouldn't cover all the NGSS standards.

Most of the students in our earth sciences are our lower-academic kids who have not mastered algebra (they are freshmen). What our district is probably going to do is filter as many kids into biology as freshmen and put the really low kids in earth science. I foresee earth science in the future being integrated into the other sciences as districts struggle to grab as much state money as they can.

It's a dilemma since districts will not receive funds for students who earn a "D" or "F" in a subject. I have a feeling that our district will probably come up with an introductory physical science class that will integrate most of the NGSS earth science standards and try to get a "d' designation.

The California Dept. of Education has said that they would like to see integrated science classes at the high school level. They have already made middle school science integrated.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Am I wrong in my assumptions? I came out of the training feeling really depressed.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Education Related Sessions at the Joint Cordilleran-Rocky Mountains GSA Meeting in Bozeman Montana May 19-21, 2014

From the GSA Education Section:

Please consider submitting an abstract to one of the four education sessions at the forthcoming joint meeting of the Rocky Mountain and Cordilleran Sections of the Geological Society of America. Many faculty teach geology using the iconic sites in the western United States and we welcome contributions with examples at all instructional levels. Place-based instruction is also a demonstrated instructional practice to help recruit students from underrepresented groups. We are also convening sessions on Field-Based Research Experiences for Undergraduates and Education and Outreach activities related to the EarthScope Program. Authors can submit abstracts for an education session in addition to another theme session.

The Rocky Mountain/Cordilleran Section meeting will be held on May 19-21 at Montana State University, Bozeman MT. There is also an extensive pre- and post-meeting field trip program. Abstract deadline is February 11, 2004. More details about this meeting can be found at:

Please forward this announcement to any interested contributors. We'll look forward to seeing you at springtime in the Rockies. Dave Mogk, Cathy Manduca, Basil Tickoff, Emily Geraghty Ward, Derek Sjostrom, Kim Hannula Education Session Conveners

T25. Teaching the Geology of Western North America. Cosponsored by National Association of Geoscience Teachers. David Mogk, Montana State University; Basil Tikoff, University of Wisconsin; Cathy Manduca, SERC at Carleton College

This session will feature teaching strategies that focus on the geology of western North America from introductory courses to “core” geoscience courses for majors. Examples and case studies that cover geoscience resources, hazards, geology of the national parks, use of geoscience databases, and EarthScope science are encouraged.

 T27. Field-Based Research Experiences for Undergraduates. Cosponsored by Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR); National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Emily Geraghty Ward, Rocky Mountain College; Derek Sjostrom, Rocky Mountain College; David Mogk, Montana State University; Kim Hannula, Fort Lewis College

This session will highlight the variety of undergraduate research projects happening in the geosciences and how they are being implemented at different types of institutions. The session is open to students who would like to present their research findings and faculty mentors who can speak to the effectiveness of these research experiences on student learning.

 T28. Teaching Geoscience in the Context of Place and Culture for Sustainability and Diversity. Steven Semken, Arizona State University; David Mogk, Montana State University

 Our senses of place and cultural perspectives influence—and provide relevant context and meaning for—the ways that we teach about geoscience. Place-based and culturally informed geoscience teaching is that which intentionally leverages the diverse meanings people make in geologically illustrative places, the attachments students and instructors affix to such places, and the cultural knowledge of groups that reside in these places (whether indigenous, historically resident, or recent arrivals). These methods, applied in formal or free-choice learning contexts, are advocated to better engage underrepresented minority students, enrich the senses of place of all learners, and to promote environmental and cultural sustainability in places and regions. This session welcomes presentations that highlight current practices, theoretical models, and authentic assessment of place-based and culturally informed geoscience teaching.

 T24. EarthScope: Innovative Research, Education, and Outreach Activities. Steven Semken, Arizona State University

The EarthScope Program began its scientific journey in the western United States, then traversed eastward over the past decade, and will soon cover Alaska. Data from this unprecedented high-definition, continental-scale study of crust, mantle, and other Earth systems, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, have already led to new findings on the evolution and dynamics of the Cordillera and Rocky Mountains (including the overlying cryosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere). EarthScope education and outreach programs are sharing these findings with diverse stakeholders in the region. This session welcomes presentations by all geoscientists and geoscience educators who use EarthScope science and products in their work, in any and all ways.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Finest Science Center in the Great Valley Needs a Museum Director

Modesto Junior College recently occupied what we think may be the finest teaching facility of its kind in the Great Valley of California, and maybe in the entire state. The Science Community Center at Modesto Junior College is a monument to the importance of science education, with state-of-the-art labs and classrooms for biology, astronomy, chemistry, physics, and the earth sciences, as well as a fully equipped observatory, and the most technically advanced planetarium projector in the United States (seriously, it's the newest generation, and we were the first to have it installed). And very soon we will open the Great Valley Museum and Outdoor Education Laboratory. The museum will have exhibits emphasizing the unique biology, paleontology and geology of the Great Valley, and will include the unique teaching tool called Science on a Sphere.

And we need a museum director.

The position announcement was posted this morning, and can be found here: If you are a talented person who knows and loves science, but can also navigate the depths and passages of a college and state bureaucracy as well as excelling at fundraising, you may be the person we need to lead our school and our valley into a new era of science excellence. Contact me or the Human Resources office at Yosemite Community College District if you have questions.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Field Course Opportunity: Geology of the Colorado Plateau, June 15-29

(cross-posted from Geotripper, by Garry Hayes)
North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park (yes, Gaelyn, we'll be on the North Rim, hope to see you there!)
There is no place on this planet like the Colorado Plateau. It's hard to find anyplace else on Earth where the crust remained relatively stable for upwards of a billion years, accumulating several miles of horizontal sediments, only to be lifted up rapidly in the last few million. The Colorado River and her tributaries then stripped away much of the sedimentary cover, and cut deep into the underlying metamorphic rocks, which record a violent geologic history of colliding landmasses and mountain-building. The resulting landscape is one of the most beautiful places imaginable.
Angels Landing Trail in Zion National Park, Utah
The plateau country is a training ground for geologists and earth scientists, and has been since the days of John Wesley Powell and Joseph Ives, who were the first to lead research parties into the region (they didn't "discover" the plateau, of course; Native Americans have known the region for thousands of years). If you are curious about learning geology in this incredible region, you might consider joining us as a student (of any age) on our geology field studies course Geology 174, offered under the auspices of Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California.
Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah
Our field course will be a grand loop through the plateau country, with investigations of the Mojave National Scenic Preserve, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mesa Verde and Great Basin National Parks, as well as many monuments, including Natural Bridges, Navajo, Hovenweap, Colorado, and state parks like Kodachrome Basin, Goblin Valley, and Berlin-Ichthyosaur. It will be an unforgettable two week trip from June 15-29, beginning and ending in Modesto. Information can be found at my school website at
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado
It's not a comfortable trip...we travel in school vans (which of course are known for their luxuriousness!), we camp every night, and the days can be hot, windy, cold, stormy, and we are out in the middle of anything that happens. But we are staying in beautiful places each night, and there are even showers and laundry available every third day or so! Extensive hiking is not required, but there will be many chances to explore the parks and monuments that we are visiting.
Double Arch in Arches National Park in Utah
Geology 174 is a 3 semester unit course. By end of the course, you will be able to see the landscape the way geologists do: by identifying rocks, minerals and fossils, and interpreting the geological history of an area by working out the sequence of events as exposed in outcrops. If you are a science teacher, you will come home with a collection of photographs that illustrate most of the important principles of geology, and a selection of rocks, minerals and fossils that will make a great classroom teaching tool (legally collected, of course; there are many localities outside of protected parks from which to collect samples).
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
The cost of the trip is $650.00 plus the cost of tuition (Currently $46 per unit for California residents, and $222 per unit for out-of-state residents). The cost includes transportation, food, camp fees, and entrance fees. Participants would want to bring a few dollars along for showers, laundry, and souvenirs.  The food is tasty and plentiful (everyone helps cook and clean!), and the school vans...are vans.

For those of you who live in the Modesto region, we are having an organizational meeting on Monday, April 22 at 7PM in Science 132 of the East Campus at Modesto Junior College. Attendance is not mandatory (and not binding, either), but will be a chance to learn more about the trip and the class. If you can't make it to the meeting, I will send the class materials to you.
Antelope Canyon, Navajo Nation Tribal Park
If you are not in the area, we will be glad to arrange for transportation from nearby airports and train stations (we actually have an Amtrak station in town). Enrollment can be completed online once you are registered with the college ( Please contact me through the class website if you have any questions.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Hope to see you out there, back of beyond!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Memorial Service for Lauren Wright, Death Valley Geologist

(cross posted from
Jim Calzia, Geologist Emeritus, USGS, has asked me to pass on this announcement about a memorial service for Lauren Wright, long time explorer of Death Valley geology, who passed away in February: 
Lauren Albert Wright
March 23, 2013; Shoshone, CA
Picture by Marli Miller
            Lauren A. Wright, 94, of State College, PA, passed away Feb 6, 2013. Professor Wright received his BS and MS in Geology from the University of Southern California, and a PhD from Cal Tech in 1952. He was first employed by the California Division of Mines (now CA Geological Survey) from 1947 to 1961, then accepted the position of Chairman, Dept of Geology and Geophysics, at Penn State University; he retired from Penn State in 1985 after teaching geology for 24 years. In his lifetime, Prof Wright became an internationally-recognized expert on the geology of Death Valley, CA. He is survived by his son Anthony.
You are cordially invited to a Memorial Service for Lauren Wright on March 23, 2013, in Shoshone, CA. The Service will be preceded by a short field trip to see a few of the geologic problems Prof Wright studied during his lifetime. The field trip is scheduled from 10-2PM; the Memorial Service begins at 3PM and is followed by a reception. In addition, Cynthia Keinitz will host an informal campfire service at China Ranch from 8PM.  Please RSVP to Susan Sorrells at villagecentral "at" or (760) 852-4224 for recommendations regarding lodging.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Full Time Geology-Environmental Sciences Teaching Position at Santa Rosa Junior College

From the CCC Registry...


Santa Rosa Junior College is seeking an individual with demonstrated instructional skills to join an outstanding team of faculty and instructional administrators to provide high quality services to our district, our community, and most importantly to our students. This is a full-time, regular contract position, located at the Petaluma Campus, beginning Fall Semester, August 2013. Appointment is contingent upon funding and Board approval.


The Earth and Space Sciences Department of Santa Rosa Junior College is seeking an interdisciplinary instructor to teach in the Earth Sciences at the Petaluma Campus. This position requires teaching in at least two of the Earth Sciences disciplines (environmental science, geography, geology, meteorology and/or oceanography), with a preference that at least one of the two disciplines be environmental science, geography or geology. A typical assignment might include lecture and lab courses, and both day and evening classes; specific assignments will vary depending upon department needs and instructor expertise. The new faculty member will be joining one other Earth and Space Sciences faculty member at the Petaluma campus, and will be expected to support the department on this campus, in addition to department-wide responsibilities on both campuses.

Details below the jump...