SIPES Houston 'Maps-In-Schools' Education Outreach
Inspired by the leadership of our late colleague, Owen Hopkins, #2986, from Corpus Christi, the Houston SIPES Chapter began placing USGS geologic maps of the U.S. lower 48 states in local schools in 2009.
Several maps have been presented as rolled paper maps, along with oral presentations by Pat Shannon, #2195, Duncan Dubroff, #2618, myself and other SIPES Members. The map itself, called “A Tapestry of Time and Terrain” is a creation of the USGS. It is a large, colorful, even dramatic geologic map with shaded topographic relief of the continental U.S., color coded to the geologic column, and an absolute time scale beside the map. The SIPES Houston Chapter now frames the map professionally and adds a brass dedication plate describing the origin of the gift honoring Owen Hopkins, and more recently, our late past Chapter Chair John Hankey, #2548.
Progress was initially slow in Houston, largely as a result of the reluctance of schools to believe we had a message of significance. There was also the administrative difficulty of releasing students from regular classes to hear a presentation. A direct personal connection to a high level administrator has seemed like the best route.
The purpose of our outreach is to have the informative and colorful geologic map serve as a focal point for students, visible in a classroom, hallway or lab, and perhaps stimulate interest in earth science and careers in earth science. This map is created by the United States Geologic Survey from space photography and shows the interpreted geologic age of the bedrock color coded to the geologic column.
The Houston Chapter of SIPES has now presented over 20 maps, and made over 30 presentations (several repeat visits to schools with a map from a prior visit). We have gone primarily to public and private middle schools, high schools and notably to three HISD and one Fort Worth ISD “Energy Institute” high schools with STEM programs supported by IPAA. We have also made presentations at San Jacinto Junior College, the University of Houston and to the River Oaks Women’s Breakfast Club! Besides Fort Worth maps have been sent to a schools in Tulsa and New York City.
How It Started
“Maps in Schools” is a major outreach program of the SIPES Houston Chapter which began in 2009.
The Houston Chapter effort was inspired by the Corpus Christi SIPES Chapter, the Corpus Christi Geological Society and the leadership of our late colleague, Owen Hopkins. Following their lead, the SIPES Houston Chapter began placing USGS geologic maps of the lower 48 in local schools in 2009. Several maps were presented as rolled paper maps, along with oral presentations by Pat Shannon, Duncan Dubroff and myself.
The map itself, called “A Tapestry of Time and Terrain”, is a creation of the USGS. The map is a large, colorful geologic map with shaded topographic relief of the continental US, color coded to the geologic column, with an absolute time scale. SIPES Houston now frames the map and adds a brass dedication describing the origin of the gift and honoring Owen and more lately, our past Chair, John Hankey. Since 2009 more than 30 schools (mostly in greater Houston) have received framed maps, had a lecture on the geologic phenomena the map illustrates and in several cases, asked for repeat presentations. Maps have been placed in Middle and High Schools.
Initially, progress was slow, largely as a result of the reluctance of schools to understand we had a message of significance and the “red tape” administrations deal with in the current environment of bad things happening in schools. Covid has slowed down the ability to visit schools dramatically.
So What Do We Say In the Presentation
The presentation we make at each of the schools consists of five parts:
- Introductory Comments: What is Earth Science and Why is SIPES Giving Your School a Map?
- DVD: the AGI DVD entitled “Why Earth Science: Because We Live on Earth” which is a very professional 10 minute overview of geoscience including volcanoes and dinosaurs
- PowerPoint Presentation: 25 slides describing the geologic map, features observable on the map, geologic time, careers in geoscience and fossils. A new addition is discussing William Smith using the book “The Map That Changed the World” written by Simon Winchester. A copy of the book is donated to the school.
- Fossil Collection; a quick review of a few of my personal fossil collection and how fossils help define geologic time periods
IPAA/PESA Energy Academies
Largely due to a connection to IPAA made for us by SIPES member Evelyn Medvin, I connected with the IPAA/PESA (Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Petroleum Equipment Suppliers Association) program coordinated by their Energy Education Center. IPAA/PESA has established and actively supports five petroleum academies that teach students engineering, geosciences, leadership and math in Houston Independent School District and the Fort Worth Independent School District. The program began at Houston’s Milby High School and has grown to include five schools, culminating in The Energy Institute High School which opened with 200 students in 2013. The Energy Institute High School will add 200 students each year until a total enrollment of 800. This is a unique institution for not only HISD but the nation!
The Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, also part of HISD, is the first all-girls engineering and geoscience program of its type in the nation at the high school level.
The five schools involved are:
- Energy Institute High School, Houston
- Milby High School, Houston
- Southwest High School, Fort Worth
- Westside High School, Houston
- Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy, Houston
I am happy to say each of the Schools (including Fort Worth) has received a framed map from us and four of schools have requested and received a presentation on earth science and the geology observable on the map. The deliveries hand-off to faculty and administrators has been dome by myself and SIPES past-Chair John Hankey, SIPES member Elizabeth de Leon-Maestas (aka EA) and current SIPES Houston Chair Jeff Allen.
IPAA Program Evolution
IPAA program has changed its name to the “IPAA Energy Workforce Education Center”. Their educational program has been working with educators for nearly 20 years with a professional staff supporting programs, resources and advice to member schools to enhance STEM education and especially energy focused programs.
The SIPES Houston “Maps in Schools” program joined the IPAA program when we connected to the Houston ISD high schools with “Petroleum Academies” and presented maps. That was an unplanned synergy!
Subsequently I have been invited to join Evelyn Medvin on the IPAA Education Advisory Board and SIPES Houston is now a sponsor of the IPAA Energy Workforce Education Center and SIPES Houston is listed as such on their website.
The IPAA program has expanded dramatically. Some quick statistics:
- Over 17,000 students have participated in the IPAA programs
- 41 percent female participation
- Two-thirds of students are economically disadvantaged
- Significant impact on first generation college participation
- Over $1,000,000 in college scholarships awarded
- 795 industry externships awarded with 37 participating companies
The goal for SIPES Houston is to have annual return visits resume as classes of students see our map in their classroom or hallway and wonder what it means. At Duchesne Academy, for example we have now returned five years to speak to the entire 7th grade.
Many thanks to everyone who has been involved and to several recent Houston SIPES Boards for their support in the expense of framing the maps!
All the materials we use are available if you want to call me, or get an overview. Many thanks to everyone who has been involved, and to several recent Houston Chapter Boards for their support. We will, of course, continuously work to expand the scope to other schools. At the recent AAPG Gulf Coast Section Meeting in Corpus Christi we traded ideas with Corpus Christi Geological Society members active in their program.
Jeffrey W. Lund is an independent consulting petroleum geologist in Houston, Texas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org