My name is Megan Carmel and I am working as an AmeriCorps VISTA member this year with the Flagstaff Area National Monuments (National Park Service). My official title is Public Outreach and STEM Education Liaison. I am originally from Columbus, Ohio and have always been fascinated by weather and climate. I received my Bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University in Environmental Geography, then came to Flagstaff and received my Master’s in Climate Science and Solutions at Northern Arizona University.
Right now, I am developing a service learning project for Summit High School and the Teenage Parent Program (TAPP). I will be working with TAPP teacher Michele Craig, high school science teacher Miguel Fernandez, and middle school science teacher Kim Howell, along with their roughly 40 students. The program is focused on climate change and cultural resources, and how climate change will affect the preservation and monitoring of ancient cultural structures into the future.
Over the past several months, I have been able to work closely with National Park Service (NPS) archeologists Erin Gearty and Ian Hough to develop this program. In August, I began a month out in the field with the archeologists and was able to assist in preservation and monitoring work of prehistoric cultural sites at Walnut Canyon, Wupatki, and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monuments. This training, along with my classroom program training with my mentor, Steven Rossi, has been instrumental in preparing me for the development of this service learning project.
Starting in February, I will be giving three classroom programs at Summit High School for two classrooms, a middle school science class and a high school science class, along with the students in the TAPP. The first program will focus on climate change in general and in the Flagstaff area. The second will focus on the NPS and climate change. The third will focus on archeology, cultural resources, and climate change and will be an introduction to the service learning fieldwork portion of the program.
The service learning project will take place in the spring out at Wupatki National Monument. Each class will get to come out to the monument twice for field work and reflection. Students will experiment with different types of mortar and determine which sand/clay compositions and binders will stand up best to current weather conditions and changing weather patterns in the future. Upon completion of the project, students will creatively present their work to NPS staff and other members of the Flagstaff area community.
This project and the data collected by the students will be used directly by NPS archeologists in helping them determine which mortars will work best for their work in preserving ancient pueblos. In turn, the students will gain a sense of ownership over their work, be able to reflect on the work that they did, understand how it relates to them personally, and experience what it’s like to work in a real-world, scientific setting.
My goal is to show students the unique opportunities available to them when considering their career paths, experience a place-based service learning project in our parks, and simply get them outdoors enjoying their natural and cultural environment. I’m so excited to work with Summit High School and TAPP, and can’t wait to see this program unfold.