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K-12 Outreach

The Department of Geography has a long history of providing support to K-12 education across Tennessee.  Much of the outreach is coordinated through the Tennessee Geographic Alliance (TGA) which is part of the National Geographic Network of Alliances for Geographic Education.  However, most of our faculty are actively engaged in some way with K-12 education, aided by our graduate and undergraduate students.

The TGA hosts professional development workshops statewide for Tennessee’s teachers and, on occasion, receives grants from organizations like the National Endowment for the Humanities to host summer institutes that attract teachers from across the United States.  The TGA also creates and distributes classroom resources and advocates for geography education at the state and national levels.

An excellent example of our faculty’s outreach is Dr. Henri Grissino-Mayer’s work with Phillip Lewis, a 5th grade teacher at Talbott Elementary School in Jefferson County.  Henri worked with Phillip and the Department’s Laboratory of Tree Ring Science to prepare a cross section of a large oak tree that fell recently in East Tennessee.  Phillip wanted to use the cross section as a tool to teach geography, history, math and science to his students.  The project has been such a success that Phillip won the 2013 Lottie and Alden Beverly Geography Teacher of the Year Award and his classroom was featured on a Knoxville TV news segment.

The following link will take you to the news story.–ipads–history-teaching-tools Student tree

An example of K-12 outreach by the Tennessee Geographic Alliance is its on-going collaborations with the University’s McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture.  The two organizations work closely to host teacher professional development workshops based on the permanent and special exhibits at McClung.  In February 2013, the TGA, McClung and the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences hosted a one-day workshop in conjunction with the exhibit Continents Collide: The Appalachians and Himalayas that included lectures, a tour of the exhibit and a fieldtrip to the Blue Ridge foothills.  Twenty-five teachers from around East Tennessee participated. IMG_2223-forweb