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On September 18-19, 2006, James Madison University (JMU) hosted a one and half day symposium entitled, “Spotlight on Earth Science,” highlighting current resources and technology available for earth science teachers, and invited teachers to share effective practices learned in their program coursework through the two Mathematics and Science Partnerships (MSP) funded by the Virginia Department of Education. The symposium supported a pooling of expertise among participants to initiate the definition and resolution of the persistent issues in earth science education in Virginia. A total of ninety-six teachers, university faculty, curriculum supervisors, policymakers, and business/government/industrial representatives participated. Three themes were addressed: 1) Best Practices in Earth Science Teaching, 2) Curricular and Assessment Issues in Earth Science, and 3) Earth Science Teacher Education. The two MSP projects, Virginia Earth Science Collaborative (VESC) and Innovative Teachers in Earth Science in Tidewater (ITEST), addressed only one aspect of the earth science issues in Virginia: the shortage of qualified earth science teachers. Building on the successes of these projects and the symposium, the Virginia Mathematics and Science Coalition commissioned a task force to explore the problems and potential solutions raised by participants in symposium. Future anticipated outcomes include the development of graduate programs in geoscience education and engagement in funded projects in geoscience education to suit the needs of students, teachers, and school divisions.





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