GeoX 2014: A Week of Discovery for Future Aggies

Jul 24, 2014

Twenty-five students from around the state and as far away as Ohio were on campus from June 8-14 for an introduction to the geosciences. This marks the fourth year for GeoX, a weeklong program for high-achieving high school juniors and seniors funded by BP, Marathon Oil and Eddie V. Gray ’57. 

"Despite our state's economy being rooted in the geosciences, high school students in Texas have relatively little exposure to the field,” said Chris Houser, faculty lead since the program’s inception. 

“GeoX introduces high-achieving junior and senior students to the geosciences and more important to the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M,” he said. “Recruitment of these students would not be possible without the continued support of the participating faculty and the academic advisors. Our goal now is to begin scaling the program to introduce even more high school students to the geosciences." 

The week’s activities ranged from a balloon launch to the robotic exploration of Mars. Students studied seismic waves demonstrated by Slinkies, observed the seismic testing being conducted in Brazos Valley,and found their way across campus using GPS. They visited the core repository and labs at the International Ocean Discovery Program and spent a day at BP headquarters in Houston to learn about the oil and gas industry. The students also heard from Texas A&M representatives about study abroad, admissions, and scholarships and financial aid. 

Counselors for GeoX were: Janet Torres (WMHS), Rebecca Gray (OCNG), and Pablo Banda, Shelby Thomas, Madison Toles, and Paulina de los Santos all ENVP. Many were GeoXers themselves in summers past. 

Faculty participants were: 
ATMO: Dr. Don Conlee (balloon launch and weather analysis); Dr. Courtney Schumacher (ADRAD and SMART-R); and Dr. Mark Lemmon (Mars robotic exploration) 

GEPL: Dr. Kate Miller (seismic interpretation); Dr. Rick Giardino (introduction to geology and geophysics); Dr. Ryan Ewing (Mars rover from a geology and geophysics perspective); and Dr. Chris Houser (ground-penetrating radar) 

OCNG: Dr. Debbie Thomas (introduction to oceanography) 

ENVP: Dr. Christian Brannstrom (introduction to environmental programs) 

IODP: Dr. Katerina Petronotis and Denise Kulhanek (introduction to scientific ocean drilling) 

GEOG: Dr. Christian Brannstrom (using geography to understand shale gas development), Drs. Michael Bishop, Dan Goldberg and Andrew Klein (introduction to GIST); Dr. Anthony Filippi (field spectroscopy); and Dr. Houser (using GPS for the Amazing Race across Campus).

At the farewell lunch, academic advisors Missy Mathews (ATMO and OCNG), Emily Dykes (ENVP), Gail Rowe (GEOG), Suzanne Rosser (GEPL) spoke to the students and their parents about the academic opportunities in each department and what it takes to succeed. 

As a final sendoff, the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Yell leaders led the future Aggies in a mini-Yell Practice. Whoop

By Karen Riedel