August 19, 2015

Why you should plan now to participate (and help others participate) in #EarthScienceWeek

Posted by Laura Guertin

We know that as soon as the semester starts, the semester seems to fly by and zoom forward to final exam week! Before you get too deep into grading and campus committee work (and maybe before you even finish wrapping up your fall syllabus!), please think about what you can do for Earth Science Week – this year, October 11-17.

“Visualizing Earth Systems.” the theme of Earth Science Week 2015, explores what it means to see our planet through eyes informed by the geosciences. Using technologies ranging from on-site data collection to satellite-based remote sensing, scientists investigate conditions of Earth systems. And today’s geoscientists display their findings in charts, graphs, diagrams, illustrations, photos, videos, computer-generated animations, and 3D-printed creations.  —  From AGI ESW Mission & Theme page


Katelyn Murtha, Outreach Association for Earth Science Week, shared some more background information on the theme: “The theme of ‘Visualizing Earth Systems’ encourages students to think of tools scientists use to understand natural phenomenon they cannot necessarily observe with their senses. This is something that can be as complex as remote sensing or as simple as a clay model. Visualizing data and using it to understand the interaction of Earth systems is a vital aspect of geoscience.” But why think about Earth Science Week now? It is important to “get the word out” and help others (K-12 teachers, museums, etc.) that do not yet have something planned for Earth Science Week get something on their calendars. Local geology clubs/organizations can add a speaker to their fall calendar in October.  Museums can arrange a special display on the geology of the state and/or showcase specimens of the state mineral and state fossil. The Delaware County Institute of Science in Media, PA, is going to be doing both the lecture and display (yay!) – but this is because I went to speak to them about setting this up. It was so easy to take such little time out of my schedule to meet with their officers, whose enthusiasm is translating to showcasing Earth Science Week to the local community. I was able to do the same at a local arboretum, where Tyler Arboretum will have a children’s book reading and outdoor youth program for No Child Left Inside Day (one of ESW’s focus days). With the Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association (PAESTA), we’re working on setting up a speaker board, where teachers can request professional geologists (including post-docs and graduate students) to connect with their students, either in person or virtually, during Earth Science Week.  We also have a place for professionals to offer to speak on different topics on a day/time of their choosing.  And we’re encouraging teachers to start exploring the amazing activity database AGI has pulled together (linked in the SEG Wiki tweet below).

And something interesting that the PAESTA members requested… they would like to see public libraries involved! My own campus library has agreed to set up a book display for Earth Science Week, and we are hoping that local libraries will do the same (or even lead an activity from the suggested ones available on the AGI website). PAESTA has been asked to compile a list of great Earth science-themed books that libraries can add to their collection (most award-winning book lists cover all the sciences and include few (if any) Earth science books). If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments field below!

So I urge you to consider having you and your students help your campus, K-12 teachers and classrooms, and the overall local-to-national community learn about Earth science as a discipline and as a career option. And as a topic of a previous blog post on GeoEd Trek, why not Make every week Earth Science Week! Be sure to sign up for AGI’s monthly issues of the Earth Science Week newsletter for helpful resources to prepare for ESW and for year-round Earth science education and engagement.

Recommended hashtags are below, and for those with Facebook/Twitter accounts, I encourage you to join PAESTA in their Earth Science Week Thunderclap!



My take-home message from this post… little efforts (speaking to/emailing groups, connecting with your campus/local librarian, using your social media account as a voice for Earth science, etc.) can make a difference!