AAPG Looks to Grow K-12 Program

K-12 Program

One of my favorite activities is to visit my kid’s school and talk about earth science. I often wear my geology garb and talk about rocks and dinosaurs.

One of the kid’s favorite experiments is building stratigraphic layers with dirt, sand and gravel in a large clear plastic container. Then we compress the sediment from the bottom and side to make faulted blocks. Finally, I let them run water on the model and develop streams and a little lake.

I let them do most of the experiment and it helps them understand a little about geologic processes. This includes small chicken bones for “fossils.”

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One of my favorite activities is to visit my kid’s school and talk about earth science. I often wear my geology garb and talk about rocks and dinosaurs.

One of the kid’s favorite experiments is building stratigraphic layers with dirt, sand and gravel in a large clear plastic container. Then we compress the sediment from the bottom and side to make faulted blocks. Finally, I let them run water on the model and develop streams and a little lake.

I let them do most of the experiment and it helps them understand a little about geologic processes. This includes small chicken bones for “fossils.”

The only problem is when I am done I have a plastic container that weighs about 150 pounds! It is a lot of fun to try and get it out of the school.


Both the AAPG Association and Foundation are considering expanding our K-12 programs. Based on surveys of members it is clear that earth science education is a high priority.

AAPG’s primary involvement has been support of Earth Science Week and the AGI K-12 curriculum program. AAPG’s Foundation has provided direct support for program development and the Association supports it through AGI dues. AAPG is one of many entities that has supported the AGI programs, and we believe that their curriculum is one of the best.

I cannot talk about AGI’s program without mentioning the work of Marcus Milling, past AGI executive director. Marcus recently passed away and will be greatly missed. He had a great passion for K-12 education and leaves a tremendous legacy of building a world-class K-12 program.

Now that AGI has built earth science curriculum for all grades through high school we feel it is important to make sure AAPG supports its application in as many schools as possible. As a result, AAPG is talking to AGI about how we can assist them in making sure their K-12 program reaches teachers and students.

An important part of that effort is making sure that we teach the teachers. AAPG President Lee Billingsley and first lady Joanne, have made geoscience education of teachers a high priority this year.

One of the other programs AAPG supports is the “Rocks in Your Head” short course for teachers that is taught by Janie Schuelke. It should be noted that this course was developed by Patty Holyfield. She passed away in 2002 and is recognized as a pioneer in developing the course to teach teachers earth science.

AAPG provides regular support of this course especially to Section meetings. We encourage societies to consider scheduling a “Rocks in Your Head” course and request support from both the AAPG Association and Foundation.

AAPG’s Youth Education Committee (YEA) continues to develop ideas to “increase the knowledge and appreciation of geoscience among students and teachers.” The committee works to expand participation in the Rocks in Your Head program and manages Earth Science Teacher of the Year Award the and Teachers’ Days at national and Section meetings. The committee also assists and coordinates earth science and energy programs of national youth organizations.

We want to expand and take advantage of emerging opportunities in earth science education. To accomplish this, the AAPG Foundation is making K-12 education a key component of its fundraising focus.

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