Summer Academies

GeoFORCE Texas Summer Academies are week long excursions that will allow you to see the many geological wonders of the United States.

Through in-class coursework and hands-on field trips, the Summer Academies teach students about the formation of the Earth, and the geological processes that shape it.  The Academies are led by Jackson School professors and research scientists, who are assisted by high school science teachers, and industry professionals. GeoFORCE students who are now in college serve as counselors and mentors.

Students will experience science in ways they simply can’t in the classroom.  They will be fascinated, awestruck, and amazed.  They will learn more than they ever expected, and they will form deep and lasting friendships.

Check out where students in the Summer Academies get to go each summer:

9th Grade Summer Academy

The 9th grade Summer Academy is the beginning of the GeoFORCE Texas adventure! It is here that students are introduced to geology. The trip focuses on coastal processes and sedimentary environments. We begin at the University of Texas at Austin, where students stay in university dorms to experience a taste of college life.  They will visit McKinney Falls State Park and other geologic sites around Austin.

We will then bus to the Texas Coast, where students begin their study of the Texas Gulf Coast and learn about geology. We will spend time at Texas beaches measuring the beach profile, trenching to investigate different layers of sediment and studying longshore drift. We will also visit the Texas State Aquarium and take a trip on the KATY Research Vessel at the UT Marine Science Institute. Returning home, students will be able to use their geologic knowledge and the confidence they have gained on this field trip as incoming high school freshman. They can better prepare for their school year and look forward to their 2nd summer in GeoFORCE.

10th Grade Summer Academy

The 10th grade Summer Academy is the second year of the Academy program.  Students have their freshman year of high school under their belt and we are ready to open their eyes to the geology of the Southwest region of the United States.

We land in Las Vegas, Nevada and head to Utah, crossing into Arizona briefly on the way, so that the students will have traveled in four states in a few hours.  Students will encounter some of the most spectacular scenery of the United States and learn about the rocks and the processes that created them over millions of years.  We will visit Zion National Historic Park, Glen Canyon Dam, and the Grand Canyon. We also stop at Meteor Crater, Wupatki Ruins, and Sunset Crater.  The students get the opportunity to take a gentle raft ride down the Colorado River and take an awesome hike down into the Grand Canyon on the South Kaibab Trail.  The trip builds on the Coastal Texas experience by introducing a wider variety of sedimentary rocks, older rocks, and discussions of deep geologic time.  A few young volcanoes foreshadow next summer’s adventure.

11th Grade Summer Academy

The 11th grade Summer Academy takes GeoFORCE rising juniors on a spectacular geologic journey to the Pacific Northwest.

In the previous two academies, students studied carbonate rocks and coastal processes in Texas (year 1) and ancient sedimentary rocks in Arizona (year 2). In year 3, they travel to an active plate boundary to see how volcanoes and mountain ranges are formed and to compare higher-energy coastal processes with those seen in previous trips. Students will learn what causes earthquakes and will visit several active volcanoes, walk across recent lava flows, and traverse the heart of the Cascades along Lewis and Clark’s historic route to the Pacific Ocean.

Field stops include such geologically renowned places as Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, Crater Lake and its world-class clear blue water, and the sandy, gravelly, and rocky shores of the Pacific coast. A popular dose of marine biology is added through visits to tide pools on coastal stops and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. This trip adds igneous rocks, geologic hazards, and active tectonic processes to the students’ growing geologic knowledge and prepares them for the final Academy trip to experience the complex geology of ancient rocks within the Texas Hill Country.

12th Grade Summer Academy

The 12th grade Summer Academy completes the GeoFORCE adventure.  Students have learned about the basic principles of geology, and are ready to apply them in a more complex environment.

The final trip brings the students back to Texas, where we study the rocks of the Texas Hill country and experience what research scientists do in the lab. The Texas Hill country bears witness to the story of a dynamic and constantly changing Earth and reveal the existence of ancient mountains, inland seas, earthquakes, uplift, and the power of water to dissolve rocks. All of the geologic concepts studied over their previous three summers culminate with the 12th grade Summer Academy, completing a geologic education that has taken the students across the country to spectacular sites, through increasingly more complex geology.

The students will visit several points of geologic interest such as Pedernales Falls State Park, Enchanted Rock State Park, and Inks Lake State Park.  Additionally the students will visit with faculty and research scientists at the Jackson School of Geosciences and learn about the cutting-edge research currently being done.

  • “I have seen sights that have taken my breath away completely, met people who can make me laugh until my stomach hurts, and learned about amazing wonders of this country.”