A South Texas Geoscience Tour
Government Canyon in northwest San Antonio
Highlighting Geoscience Opportunities in the Mission City
Activity Leader: Austin Turner
The goal of this project was to create a website that could be used as a way to promote geoscience involvement in the San Antonio area, either by allowing teachers and professors in the city to use it as part of a curriculum or by sharing the website at geoscience conferences.
Geologists in the U.S. are rarely Hispanic or Latino (although that statistic has improved over the past decade). The promotion of the geosciences in San Antonio, which is the 7th most populous city in the U.S. and has a population that is 64% Hispanic, would help to further close this gap. In creating this project, the hope is to promote diversity in background and thought within the geosciences in order to create an equitable, interdisciplinary future.
Initially, the project idea was to record a podcast, taking advantage of the resurgence of purely audio media in the modern world after the general public realized what this self-published, hands-free, and on-demand medium had to offer. This idea worked well for an on-site audio tour. However, the utility of this in a classroom setting seemed poor, since most people listen to podcasts while doing other activities such as walking or driving. This realization led to the decision to produce a website.
Each page of the website is a site in the city which includes a map marker and researched history about the area. Where possible, interviews with people who work at the site may be included to further emphasize the connections to San Antonio and the larger geologic history of the area. All of this content will ideally be provided in a way that mixes text with audiovisual resources, because the goal is to integrate phones (which most people, especially young adults, don't leave home without) into each section while not requiring people to remain glued to their screens to gain the information. This mix between text and A/V also ensures that people can benefit from looking at the site from the classroom or from home if they aren't able to visit the actual location.
Target Outcomes and Impact
From this project I've learned the value of communicating personal experiences without worrying about perceived importance; if you design something based on your own perspective and incorporate passion, it can be a tool for change and improvement. However, it's also important to acknowledge the limits of your perspective and not impose it on others by assuming it's the standard view.
In the future, I hope to incorporate science communication into research projects (or maybe even research science communication and communicate the scientific findings). The written and spoken word will always be important, and I hope to use the skills learned in the Geoscience Ambassadors program to effectively distill and demystify scientific concepts relating to the environment for the general public, whether I'm communicating with San Antonians or others.
Hi! My name is Austin Turner, and I'm an undergraduate student at the University of Texas majoring in geology and chemistry. I'm interested in researching the geochemical effects of climate change, including effects on aqueous geochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, and biogeochemistry. Additionally, I'd like to research and produce effective scientific communication methods related to geology and environmental science.