The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences provides education and research to enhance our knowledge of the Earth. GeoFORCE, a K-12 outreach program of the Jackson School, is designed to increase the number of students pursuing STEM degrees in college and moving into rewarding careers.
Each summer GeoFORCE takes about 400 high school students on spectacular geological field trips in Texas and throughout the United States. Taught by university faculty, research scientists, area educators and mentored by professional geologists from our industry partners, the trips engage and empower students by exposing them to something completely different than their home and school environment.
- Target rural areas of southwest Texas and inner-city Houston that have historically generated a very low percentage of students who pursue college degrees and an even lower percentage of students who pursue degrees in math or science. These target areas have a high percentage of minority students, thus providing an opportunity for GeoFORCE to increase minority participation in science and math.
- Identify at an early age (eighth grade) students who have shown a proclivity to excel in school and engage them over four years.
- Present students with opportunities to experience the excitement of science outside the classroom through spectacular summer field trips each year of the four years they are involved in the program.
- Provide the students with examples of exciting careers that await those who stay the course and obtain degrees in math or science.
- Continue to motivate and monitor participating students each year of their high school career and into college.
In operation since 2005, GeoFORCE has a growing college program. With a high school graduation rate of 100 percent and a college matriculation rate of over 95 percent, GeoFORCE has 673 college students currently enrolled in over 100 colleges and universities throughout Texas and the US. Nearly two-thirds of our college students are majoring in STEM fields.
In March 2015 President Barack Obama awarded GeoFORCE Texas the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). The White House awards the recognition to individuals and organizations whose crucial goal is to provide mentoring in the personal and academic development of students actively studying math and science. A White House press release and a UT Austin press release are available for more information.