Earth Science Week Update October 2006

American Geosciences Institute
Vol. 4, No.4: October 2006

Weather Channel’s Greg Forbes
Kicks Off Earth Science Week

The Weather Channel's Greg Forbes launched Earth Science Week 2006 with his address at the first International EarthCache Day, and event co-hosted by AGI and the Geological Society of America (GSA) on Sunday, Oct. 8, at the foot of the Washington Monument in Washington, DC. The event gathered scores of Earth science and geocaching enthusiasts on the Washington Mall to participate in a brief Earth-science educational experience and festivities.

“I’m encouraging you to become more aware of the various types of impacts that we, as mankind, are inadvertently imposing upon the Earth,” Forbes, an on-air personality and severe weather expert with The Weather Channel, told those in attendance. He discussed risk factors associated with human interactions with weather, including pollution, population growth, global warming, and unchecked resource use.

The event began with an introduction to Earth Science Week by AGI's Geoff Camphire and an explanation of EarthCaching by GSA's Gary Lewis. Ranger Dan Dressler of the National Park Service spoke briefly about monuments in Washington and types of stone used to build them. Forbes completed the presentation, speaking at length on a number of topics, including the effects of acid rain on national treasures such as the Washington Monument.

“What I wanted to point out are some of the things about society and the ways the Earth is evolving that are going to make it increasingly important for Earth scientists to come up with new ideas and new ways to adapt to our changing Earth,” said Forbes. In addition, Forbes discussed related topics during the week in his online blog (, and The Weather Classroom presented relevant information for students nationwide (

During the International EarthCache Day event, children and other participants took part in hands-on activities, such as "Make Your Own Rain Gauge" and "Acid Rain’s Effect on Building Stone," which offered an exciting look into the processes that effect monuments. The event also gave participants an opportunity to see how EarthCaches are developed. Additional EarthCache events were held on the same day in other states and countries. Currently more than 550 EarthCaches are located in 27 countries, and the number of these geoscience-related activities is growing rapidly.

Earth Science Week 2006
Extends Celebration’s Reach

Record numbers of people gained a new awareness of the geosciences through the ninth annual Earth Science Week, held earlier this month, according to preliminary estimates. The event celebrated the theme “Be a Citizen Scientist” by engaging the public in real “citizen science” research and promoting science literacy. Earth Science Week events ranged from individual teachers and classrooms completing in-class Earth science activities to open houses held at large USGS field stations.

As in past years, visitors to Baltimore’s Maryland Science Center were greeted and treated to a fun introduction to the geosciences by AGI staff throughout Earth Science Week. AGI staffers traveled to the science center to discuss Earth science, hand out educational and promotional materials, and conduct a brief “experiment” with children on each day of the celebration. Children were invited to make their own Secchi disk, use it to text the penetration of light into various water samples, and take the disk home.

In addition, events and outreach efforts reached many people nationwide. For example:
* Earth science displays, demonstrations, and video clips were shown at an event where participants were eligible to win mineral and fossil samples at Palomar Community College in San Marcos, California.
* In Vermont, geoscience enthusiasts explored watersheds, toured a hazardous-materials spill rig, discussed mercury risks, and hiked throughout the state’s many parks, with the help of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Geological Survey.
* Participants took part in special competitions, presentations, and other activities at the Houston Geological Society’s Annual Family Earth Science Festival at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Texas.
* The Alaska Geological Society guided elementary-school students in a hands-on activity that simulated mining and reclaiming land.

In one of the week’s most highly visible instances of publicity for the event, Washington, DC-area NBC Weather Anchor Bob Ryan devoted a few minutes of a daily weather forecast to promoting participation in Earth Science Week. Viewers throughout the District of Columbia, southern Maryland, and northern Virginia saw Ryan hold up an Earth Science Week T-shirt, heard him explain ways to participate, and learned how they could find out more on NBC’s Weather Plus Web site.

More Earth Science Week Toolkits already have been distributed this year than ever before. For example, for the first time, the vast majority of State Geological Surveys - 31 - requested bulk shipments for distribution to teachers and others within their respective states. This year the Toolkit included a new edition of its popular Earth Science Activity Calendar filled with activities and important geoscientific dates. The kits also include factsheets on citizen science programs from the USGS, a DVD entitled “Views of the National Parks” from the National Parks Service, and a lithograph about ozone and a cloud chart from NASA.

Supplies of the 2006 and previous years’ kits are running low. To order, visit

Earth Science Week Contests
Winners, Finalists Announced

Carson Conover of Orrtanna, Pennsylvania, won first place in this year’s Earth Science Week photo contest with his picture of windmills at the water’s edge. Finalists were Karsen Donati-Leach, Hannah Henderson, Daniel Marom, Danny John Rutherford, and Vivian Wright. Submissions illustrated the theme "Using and Studying Earth's Resources." The goal was to create pictorial evidence of Earth resources is an exciting way.

Rama Bushra Imad of Houston, Texas, won the visual arts contest with her drawing depicting the Earth's atmospheric layers and mission control in Houston. Finalists were Mickayla Aufiero, Clay Collins, Isaac Han, Patrick Sibayan, and Clara Tucker. Students in grades K-5 made a drawing, collage, or other two-dimensional piece of artwork illustrating the theme "Earth Science in Your Home Town."

Ray Daniels of Herndon, Virginia, won first place in the essay contest with his essay titled "Finding Caerulium." Finalists were Arianna Barbee, Christina Marie Culmone, Rhiannon Dockter, Stephen Eltinge, and Jack Furness. Students grades 5-9 wrote essays of up to 500 words addressing this year's Earth Science Week theme: "Be a Citizen Scientist!"

Congratulations to the winners, all our finalists, and everyone who entered! The winning photo and essay can be viewed online at

New K-5 Resource Promoted
In Earth Science Week Toolkit

Educators receiving AGI’s Earth Science Week 2006 Toolkit are finding a valuable resource inside - a colorful poster teaching guide promoting AGI’s new K-5 GeoSource ( Web site. This groundbreaking professional development site is designed specifically for elementary-level instructors who teach Earth science topics such as weather, fossils, rocks, soil, water and more.

AGI has teamed up with Scholastic Inc. - the global children’s publishing, education and media company - to develop “The Wonders of Earth,” a new science poster teaching guide highlighting K-5 GeoSource, which is being distributed to Earth Science Week Toolkit recipients and more than 150,000 educators nationwide. The poster teaching guides include grade-appropriate and standards-based classroom activities that explore and celebrate science and are exemplary of those found on K-5 GeoSource. Every lesson helps students dig into Earth science by teaching the six scientific processes. Following these steps, students will explore the earth’s minerals, what causes earthquakes, and how to predict the weather.

“K-5 GeoSource provides classroom activities, assessment recommendations, targeted research and resources, training opportunities, graduate level courses and more - all specially tailored for teachers of students in kindergarten through grade five,” says Ann Benbow, AGI Director of Education and Outreach.

This extensive Web site, created with generous AGI Foundation support from corporate and private donors, features resources designed to help teachers:
* Understand standards-based science content, such as “how” and “why” questions about various geoscience topics.
* Plan stimulating lessons and classroom activities in the Earth sciences.
* Assess student learning effectively and tailor instruction to meet students’ needs.
* Explore up-to-date career information and the many exciting professional opportunities available to students in the geosciences.
* Investigate links to additional educational resources in the geosciences.
* Access a variety of professional development opportunities currently available for Earth science educators.
* Delve into research about how children learn science.
* Enroll in graduate-level online courses to improve teaching and increase geoscience content knowledge.

“We want to encourage young students during their most impressionable years to become interested in the Earth and other physical sciences,” says Jan van Sant, Executive Director of the AGI Foundation. “We see the importance of the geosciences highlighted in the daily news about energy, the environment, and international events. With the creation of K-5 GeoSource, AGI now offers a complete portfolio of Earth science educational programs, from the elementary grades, through high school and beyond.”

K-5 GeoSource provides an elementary-level component to match the two secondary-level Earth science curriculum packages that AGI has released in recent years: Earth System Science in the Community (grades 9-12) and Investigating Earth Systems (grades 6-8). Additional geoscience curricula for middle school, high school, and college level are in development. All AGI educational products and services can be found online at

K-5 GeoSource teaching guides are available in AGI’s Earth Science Week 2006 Toolkit, a materials packet designed to help educators and others celebrate the event. In addition to the teaching guides, the toolkits contain geoscience posters, an activity calendar, a DVD, brochures, classroom activities, and more. Teachers can learn more about Earth Science Week and order materials at

Earth Science Week
Reaches Spanish-Speakers

Many geoscience agencies, organizations, and educators distribute AGI’s “Why Earth Science?” brochure to promote awareness of the importance of Earth science in K-12 education. To ensure that this vital message reaches the widest possible audience, AGI has recently translated this publication into Spanish.

The geoscience community recognizes the demand for greater minority participation. America’s 40 million Hispanics currently comprise the nation’s largest race or ethnic minority, a population that is rapidly growing. What’s more, three out of four Hispanics age five and older speak Spanish at home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

AGI’s new Spanish-language “Why Earth Science?” brochure, distributed through Earth Science Week, explains the importance of Earth science education for success in school, careers, informed decision-making, and civic engagement. With the federal No Child Left Behind law calling for state assessments in science by 2007, the need for top-flight geoscience education has never been more urgent.

See the Earth Science Week Education Kit for a sample copy of this new publication. To receive free additional copies, please contact AGI’s Geoff Camphire at English and Spanish versions of the brochure also are available online at

Earth Science Week
Resources Available Online

If you’ve got Internet access, you can teach and learn about Earth science. The Earth Science Week Web site ( features information on geoscience classroom activities, contests, theme-based resources, research projects in which you can participate, events taking place in local communities, local organizations available for collaboration, geoscience careers, and ways to order an Earth Science Week Education Toolkit.

Perhaps most importantly, the site features dozens of recommended activities that teachers and parents can conduct with children. All activities are aligned with the National Science Education Standards. On the site, young people also can complete the Geosciences Career Webquest to test their knowledge of what Earth scientists do.

This year’s theme, “Be a Citizen Scientist,” highlights ways to engage students and the public in conducting citizen-science research and spreading science literacy. In keeping with this theme, the Earth Science Week Web site now features links to programs and resources that emphasize citizen science, such as The Weather Channel’s Weather Classroom (, NASA’s Name the International Space Station Node 2 (, and information on geoscience scholarships, fellowships and internships (

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of 44 scientific and professional associations that represents more than 120,000 geologists, geophysicists, and other Earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interest in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of the resources and interaction with the environment. More information about AGI can be found at The Institute also provides a public outreach site at