Geology department provides outreach to North Carolina middle schoolers


Nikki Parker, Reporter

Geology scavenger hunts, fossil workshops, rock smashing and career exploration activities are what some visiting groups enjoy when they arrive at the Rankin Science Building.

Sixth-graders from Sherrills Ford Elementary School in Asheville and Foothills Community School Scholars from Marion visited App State last week through the GES Outreach Team. The team catered to each group and gave the students a day filled with activities in relation to the geology curriculum they are currently learning in school. 

The GES department typically hosts one to three school groups a week. 

Most groups are coordinated through admissions by Pre-Enrollment Program Coordinator Tracey Tardiff, who works with Outreach Coordinator Marta Toran on providing school groups with a hands-on science experience during their visit. 

“These events take a lot of people power, so some weeks, like this, we can have 28 students from different majors signed up to help; some are volunteers, some are doing service learning hours and others are employed as interns in the GES department,” Toran said. 

The outreach department educates not just students, but teachers, as well. Toran, along with other students in the major, instruct fourth grade teachers across the state on how to teach Geology to students better. 

“Having kids come to Appalachian provides them with an experience they can’t get in the classroom. It also allows App to lend helping hand to teachers by providing them with resources to take back to the classroom,” said Volcan Intern and quantitative geology major Carly Maas. 

The outreach not only supports educational institutions in efforts to elevate STEM education but also to get middle school students excited about coming to App State. 

“My favorite part as an outreach coordinator in the GES department is watching our students interact with kids and the public, and watching them share their research experiences about field trips,” Toran said. “During their visit, they get to touch a real dinosaur bone as well as the oldest thing in the entire planet (the Acasta Gneiss). That’s pretty awesome.”

The department will pursue events like group visits with Hardin Park School and a career day at Granite Falls in the coming weeks.