Re-enfranchising communities in the wake of COVID-19: Lessons learned during the pandemic for reaching underserved schools with earthquake science

Armando Franco, Austin J. Elliott, Susan Garcia, Katherine M. Scharer, Jessica R. Murray, Adria McClain, & Andrew J. Michael

Submitted September 11, 2022, SCEC Contribution #12348, 2022 SCEC Annual Meeting Poster #278

In “Impact of COVID-19 on Science Education” the Public Policy Institute of California reports 62% of school districts deprioritized science education during academic year 2021-2022 due to limited support and resources. Only 40% of school districts provided additional science support to English learners; and only 27% of districts surveyed made science a high priority in their recovery plans. These findings underscore the urgency behind educational and community outreach in disenfranchised communities and reveals the need to understand the role earthquake scientists in universities and government can play.
Education and outreach are critical to minimize the cost, injury, and loss of life from natural disasters. They provide community members with the information, resources, and tools needed to assess their risk and implement solutions. Scientist participation in neighborhood preparedness activities and outreach efforts in disenfranchised and underserved communities is important to ensure all communities equitably receive the information they need to be better prepared for disasters. Exposure begins with early educational outreach to school-aged children. Science education in the classroom builds critical thinking, conveys fundamental concepts about the world around us, and inspires students of diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
In order to reach students that have a deficit of science outreach, the USGS Earthquake Science Center (ESC) is developing materials and strategies that utilize technology to systematically reach more students in underserved schools. The four goals outlined below summarize the work we have implemented at ESC and the next steps necessary for ongoing success in this outreach effort.
-Design virtual school presentations aligned with the California curriculum to engage with 4th graders to develop a general understanding of earthquake concepts and expose them to the diversity of careers available in earthquakes
-Provide information and resources in Spanish since 28% of California's highly earthquake-prone population speaks Spanish
-Ensure a systematic approach for virtual classroom visits by compiling a directory of schools in regional districts where earthquakes pose a greater threat
-Develop materials specifically with virtual classroom visits in mind to broaden our geographic reach, encourage more participation and reduce the time and effort on the part of the scientists

Key Words
Primary School, Spanish, COVID

Franco, A., Elliott, A. J., Garcia, S., Scharer, K. M., Murray, J. R., McClain, A., & Michael, A. J. (2022, 09). Re-enfranchising communities in the wake of COVID-19: Lessons learned during the pandemic for reaching underserved schools with earthquake science. Poster Presentation at 2022 SCEC Annual Meeting.

Related Projects & Working Groups
Communication, Education, and Outreach (CEO)