The Geo-Launchpad program: A pre-REU internship for community college students
Women and some minority groups are severely underrepresented in geoscience. The Geo-Launchpad (GLP) summer internship program seeks to broaden participation in geoscience by engaging diverse community college students in immersive, technical experiences. This project is a collaborative effort between Front Range Community College (FRCC) and UNAVCO, a non-profit, university-governed consortium that facilitates geoscience research and education. Geo-Launchpad is not a research experience for undergraduates. It is a pre-REU program that helps students develop research-ready skills, and provides support in creating a career path in science, engineering, or technology. Interns spent eight weeks at UNAVCO in Boulder, Colorado, working on a collaborative project under the guidance of an UNAVCO project manager, culminating oral and poster presentations.
Goal 1: Serve lower-division university and community college students from underrepresented groups.
Goal 2: Build student interest in geosciences and related careers
Goal 3: Engage students in collaborative research projects in the geosciences that develop and improve research-ready skills
Goal 4: Provide ongoing support for students choosing to pursue degrees in geosciences and related fields
The Geo-Launchpad program was created to help students develop the skills needed to conduct research as well as provide professional development to aid in their pursuit of a science degree. Science professionals, including geoscientists, require basic skills such as critical thinking, data analysis, communication skills, and organizational skills in addition to mathematics and content knowledge. Essential elements of the Geo-Launchpad internship program are to 1) engage students in an extended technical project, 2) introduce students to instrumentation in the geosciences, 3) introduce students to geoscience concepts, 4) provide students with an overview of geoscience careers, and 5) enhance studentsﾒ mentoring relationship with a faculty member at their home institution. In addition to field experiences, the GLP program offered a variety of professional development sessions including career seminars (Career circles), communication seminars, technical seminars, and opportunities to network with working scientists and student researchers.
Student surveys and interviews demonstrated moderate to strong growth in most areas, including communication skills, technical/instrumental skills, and knowledge of geoscience careers. The program also had an impact on the faculty mentors themselves, re-energizing their commitment to students and providing valuable networking opportunities.
Impacts of the program include: preparing a diversity of students for academic and career opportunities
in the geosciences through national recruitment at universities and community colleges, providing students from underrepresented groups the opportunity to work in a professional environment and be exposed to the academic research support process, and providing resources to community college faculty to assist them in mentoring students.
No unexpected challenges
Charlevoix, D., and Morris, R. (2015). Developing Research-Ready Skills: Preparing Early Academic Students for Participation in Research Experiences, presentation, December 14, AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA