October 17, 2018

What inspires you? Earth Science Week 2018

Posted by Laura Guertin

Earth Science Week inspires me to take action to facilitate education and awareness to the campus and local community about Earth science. How are you inspired to share Earth science?

Happy Earth Science Week! Each October, the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) organizes a global celebration to help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Earth sciences and to encourage stewardship of the Earth. This year’s theme is “Earth as Inspiration” to emphasize artistic expression as a unique, powerful opportunity for geoscience education and understanding in the 21st century. According to AGI’s website, the theme will promote public understanding and stewardship of the planet, especially in terms of the ways art relates to geoscience principles and issues as diverse as energy, climate change, the environment, natural disasters, technology, industry, agriculture, recreation, and the economy.

How is your institution/organization connecting to the Earth as Inspiration theme? As the only geologist on my campus, I knew this was the perfect theme to get the wider campus community engaged in various activities. And even though we planned out many events for the week ahead of time, having Hurricane Michael make landfall in Florida and the release of the IPCC Report Global Warming of 1.5oC on the first day of Earth Science Week actually generated a surge of interest in learning about Earth science from all audiences.

These are the activities we’re doing on campus – and note the connections I made across campus to broaden the network involved:

STEAM from STEM faculty

Book display

  • We’re hosting our own campus Earth Science Week photo contest on the theme of Earth as Inspiration. Through a campus-wide popular vote, our faculty, staff and students are selecting award winners in the student category and faculty/staff category. I developed the contest with the Instructional Design Specialist in our Office of Academic Affairs, as he was looking for ways to encourage more people on campus to utilize the Adobe Creative Suite of software our university provides. We held information sessions, formed a website, and some faculty included the contest as part of their syllabus (including faculty outside of STEM courses). The voting is taking place as I write this post, and on Friday, we’ll have an awards ceremony and reception in our campus library to recognize the winners.
  • Our campus library has been a key partner in so many of my Earth science/sustainability activities. They generated an entire book display right at the entrance to the library for the week.
  • I connected with all the STEM faculty on campus and asked if any of them had creative work they would like to display in the library during the week. We used the Earth as Inspiration theme to generate a STEAM display by our STEM faculty! We have an original painting of a landscape and samples of 3D printing, origami, science-themed quilting, and crocheted coral, thanks to faculty from biology, math, and Earth science.
  • Speaking of crocheted coral… our math faculty worked with our Math Club to host a campus-wide event to learn how to crochet a coral! (OK – so the event also sneaked in some content knowledge about hyperbolic planes) We had a room packed with students wanting to learn how to crochet, and throughout the rest of the week, we are creating a collaborative campus coral reef!
  • This evening, our two sustainability-themed committees on campus are working with our Sustainability Club to host a screening of the new James Balog documentary The Human Element. This screening is open to the campus and the public, and we’ll have campus scientists lead the Q&A and a discussion after the viewing.

I’m excited about the energy and enthusiasm on campus this week, having colleagues from across all disciplines show interest and support for Earth science. May this week continue to inspire even more programming and conversations throughout the academic year for us all!