S4.5: Geoscience education and place-based learning for youth: informing and inspiring the next generation


Elizabeth Westby

U.S. Geological Survey Cascades Volcano Observatory, United States of America

When volcano observatories develop hazard communication plans and strategies,the targeted audience is typically adults in at-risk communities. The adults are viewed as holding positions of responsibility within their families and communities,and the ones capable of taking appropriate actions to mitigate the risks associated with volcano hazards. Youth, on the other hand, are assumed to be educated about hazards in school or in the home, but more likely, develop ideas and opinions influenced by media outlets and the entertainment industry. Without challenges from the scientific community, these “beliefs” or misperceptions become ingrained and will be carried well into adulthood.To develop a knowledgeable and resilient future community, scientists need to devote time and resources to engage in youth-based programs. Hands on,place-based learning, for example, is an impactful way to share information about volcanoes, volcano hazards, monitoring technologies, science careers and hazard education. Programs that emulate field experiences and explain the “what” and “why” through memorable hands-on learning opportunities help students understand hazards, normalize mitigation measures and develop the critical thinking skills desired in at-risk communities. Moreover, this knowledge will be shared with friends and family members.This session will explore formal and informal youth-based geoscience education—with an emphasis on placed-based learning, youth-appropriate hazard and risk messaging, and ways in which scientists can build programs that increase interactions with youth in at-risk communities, with the desired outcome to both in form and inspire the next generation and their families.

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