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What is the EarthLifeAtmosphere Community?

A Summer Undergraduate Research Experience for Pre-service Earth Science, Biology, and Chemistry Teachers

A National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

The investigators will develop the “EarthLifeAtmosphere” (ELA) interdisciplinary geoscience community of thirty pre-service teachers, two in-service teachers, and six Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) faculty. This community will collaborate in research and teaching within the context of solving environmental geoscience problems in the southeastern United States. Prior to each of the summers of 2013, 2014, and 2015, ELA will recruit five Earth science pre-service middle school or high school teachers and three chemistry and two biology pre-service high school teachers from a national applicant pool. During a nine-week summertime interval, the pre-service teachers will use laboratories at MTSU and field sites near the university which is located fifty kilometers southeast of downtown Nashville. The participants will explore geologic structures which provide pathways for groundwater flow, investigate surface water quality, explore rare cedar glade plant communities, experiment with ways to reduce the environmental impact of pavement, and improve understanding of ground-level ozone. While engaging in scientific research, the pre-service teachers will also come to appreciate the role of geology during the pivotal first day of the American Civil War Battle of Stones River, appreciate the role of geology and botany in the lives of rural African Americans after the war, and better understand the environmental impact of suburban development. In addition to engaging in scientific research and widely disseminating the results, ELA will develop and disseminate two pre-college educational modules. ELA will disseminate results through social media (including YouTube), a website, an on-line newsletter, ArcServer, Google Earth files, presentations at meetings, and journal articles.

The proposed project will contribute to society by helping people better-understand their environment and how to live as a part of it. In addition, the proposed project will also benefit society by training pre-service STEM teachers who will, in turn, train numerous pre-college students. The proposed project will improve understanding of the geology, plant ecology, and air quality at Stones River National Battlefield near Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and geological and plant ecological data will contribute to the planning of historical archeology investigations in the park.

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