Discoveries in Earth Science

Rhea L Miles PhD
Associate Professor
East Carolina University
313 Flanagan Building, MS 566
College of Education
Greenville, NC 27858-4353
Phone:  252/328-9366

Project Title:  Discoveries in Earth Science (DES) for Students with Blindness or Visual Impairments

The program engages middle and high school students (grades 6 to12) with blindness or visual impairments (BVI) in eastern North Carolina in creative hands-on activities in Earth science. The participants will use resources and adaptive tools to conduct Earth science activities, including identifying geologic specimens and materials, recognizing geologic and geomorphological features, reconstructing geologic history, reading simple geologic maps, determining physical properties of geologic materials, and measuring water quantity and quality parameters.  Exposure to these activities will improve students' competence in science and nurture students' enthusiasm and confidence to conduct scientific investigations. The Discoveries in Earth Science (DES) program will work with students with BVI to provide them with opportunities and the capacity to independently conduct investigations in Earth science. The goals of the program are as follows: 1) Increase competence (knowledge and understanding) of students with BVI in science; 2) Develop the performance skills of students with BVI to conduct Earth science investigations; 3) Increase awareness of careers in the scientific workforce for students with BVI ; 4) Increase interest and motivation of students with BVI in STEM related degrees; and 5)  Increase self-advocacy skills and confidence of students with BVI.
Successful implementation of the proposed program will broaden the appeal of Earth science for middle and high school students with BVI and prepare these students for the scientific workforce.  Since very few persons with BVI in the US are pursuing a career in a field related to geological sciences, the DES program will increase awareness and interest of students with BVI in Earth science and motivate them to pursue a career in the field of geological sciences. The innovative summer and academic year program, which will be open to   middle and high school students with BVI in rural areas with low socioeconomic status, will help students conduct scientific investigations in Earth science by learning how to use adaptive scientific equipment and other accommodations and modifications to traditional methods of conducting science.