The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences provides education and research to enhance our knowledge of the Earth. GeoFORCE Texas is a free K-12 outreach program designed to increase the number and broaden the participation of students pursuing STEM degrees and careers, especially geology.
Each summer GeoFORCE Texas takes over 300 high school students on spectacular geological field trips in Texas and throughout the United States. Taught by university faculty, research scientists, and 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.
GeoFORCE Texas believes that the world’s greatest resource is its young people and that the high achievers among them have a right to recognition and personal development. The purpose of GeoFORCE Texas is to inspire the next generation of geoscientists, foster more inclusivity in the U.S. workforce, and create an increased awareness of the importance of geosciences in the communities the program serves. Student learning is achieved by providing interactive opportunities for critical thinking through hands-on field experiences and coursework. GeoFORCE Texas encourages individual social responsibility among individuals and lays the groundwork for intelligent decision-making in the future.
- Target rural areas of southwest Texas, inner-city Houston, and areas of Austin 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 traditionally underrepresented students, thus providing an opportunity for GeoFORCE to increase the participation of historically marginalized communities in science and math.
- Identify at an early age (eighth grade) students who show an interest in STEM 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 high school, through college, and into their early careers.
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 science and math. A White House press release and a UT Austin press release are available for more information.