EAS Graduate Students Receive Grant for K-5 Outreach

Geological Society of America Grant Supports Projects that Communicate Geoscience Information to General Audiences

Two graduate students in the University of Houston’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences have been awarded a 2020 E-an Zen Fund Geoscience Outreach Grant from the Geological Society of America.

Jamie Davila Elementary School
The first outreach activity held in early 2020 at Jamie Davila Elementary School with additional volunteers from the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences.

Geology Ph.D. student Stephanie Suarez and geology M.S. student Maritza Montoya received $1,500 to fund their K-5 outreach initiatives. E-an Zen Grants are intended to fund projects that communicate geoscience information to non-geoscience audiences. Two grants are awarded annually.

Suarez and Montoya’s outreach program introduces planetary Earth science concepts through hands-on activities to underserved K-5 students in the east side of Houston. They had a successful outreach event earlier this year at Jaime Davila Elementary with about 70 students.

Jose Daniel Velazco-Garcia, Ph.D. student in the UH Department of Computer Science, will be providing technical support to accommodate virtual projects and presentations due to the current COVID-19 situation. GeoLatinas, a professional group dedicated to the advancement of Latinas in geology, will also assist in refining science communications, mentorship of the PIs, and making teaching materials accessible to those who are bilingual in Spanish.

The immediate goal of this project is to familiarize students with concepts in planetary geosciences including meteorites, cratering processes, and planetary bodies where meteorites originate. The secondary long-term goal is to invoke interest in Earth and planetary sciences.

Scientific curiosity, and by extension recruitment, starts at an early age. Suarez and Montoya aim to help these students realize the career opportunities that exist in the Earth and planetary sciences and STEM fields overall.