Earth Science Week Update November 2008

American Geosciences Institute
Vol. 6, No. 11: November 2008


Earth Science Week 2008
An Unprecedented Success

Record numbers of people gained a new awareness of the geosciences through the 11th annual Earth Science Week last month. An estimated 10 million people worldwide learned about Earth science through program promotions, education efforts, and media coverage. The event celebrated the theme “No Child Left Inside” by encouraging students, teachers, and the public to go outdoors and experience Earth science firsthand. Earth Science Week events ranged from individual teachers and classes conducting playground science projects to open houses at major USGS field stations.

One of the week’s highlights was “No Child Left Inside Day,” celebrated on October 14 by Langston Hughes Middle School in Reston, Virginia. Hundreds of students hiked around nearby streams and ponds, where USGS and AGI scientists and educators offered learning stations on topics ranging from water quality to biodiversity. Students recorded observations in field notebooks donated in part by Rite in the Rain. The event was covered by local NBC and National Public Radio affiliates.

In addition, events and outreach efforts reached many people nationwide. New York’s Nassau BOCES Outdoor Education Center offered an EarthCache Teacher Workshop. At the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California, visitors panned for gold, identified rocks and minerals, handled authentic meteorites, and hiked in redwood forests. The Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa celebrated with tours of wetlands, family programs exploring Florida’s caverns and freshwater habitats, and indoor demonstrations in “Disasterville.” Earth Science Week activities were promoted and covered by scores of newspapers, television stations, websites, and other media outlets worldwide.

Learn more about Earth Science Week at If you conducted a special activity to celebrate Earth Science Week, please let us know. Your activity will be featured in the Earth Science Week 2008 Highlights Report, which will be posted online and used to help secure support for the program in the future. Email information, news clips, and images to

EarthCachers Worldwide
Kicked Off Weeklong Event

Geocachers around the globe fired up their GPS units on Sunday, October 12, and celebrated the beginning of Earth Science Week 2008. Instead of searching for buried trinkets at ordinary geocache sites, however, GPS enthusiasts set their coordinates for EarthCaches and discovered Earth’s natural treasures. October 12 marked the third annual International EarthCache Day.

EarthCaching is an educational twist on the hugely successful game of geocaching. EarthCachers begin by registering and selecting a site to visit from After arriving at the chosen location via GPS technology, they perform a task specified on the EarthCaching site, such as measuring the size of fossils or height of a waterfall. Participants often take photos of the site, themselves, or their companions, then later log their experience and photos on the website.

The Geological Society of America (GSA) established the EarthCache program in 2004. Participants have developed thousands of EarthCaches in at least 50 countries, and an estimated 100,000 people have participated. For more information on EarthCaching or International EarthCache Day, contact GSA’s Gary Lewis at

Earth Science Week Contest
Winners Announced

Patrick Marchwiak of Mount Prospect, Illinois, won first place in this year’s Earth Science Week photo contest with his picture of a girl using her Brunton to measure the strike and dip of the southeastern limb of the doubly-plunging Baraboo Syncline. Finalists were Marlene Schoeneck, Debra Sinak, Peter Schuchman, and Alexandra Martinez. Submissions illustrated the theme “Earth Science Beyond Your Front Door.”

Tyler Smith of Tampa, Florida, won first place in the visual arts contest with a drawing of himself testing soil at his school to determine whether it contains lead. Finalists were Brooke Ferrante-Gennaro, Kyle Lawton, Aaron Ye, and Jordi Garcia. Students in grades K-5 made a drawing, collage, or other two-dimensional artwork illustrating the theme “Studying Our Earth.”

John Nors of Abbott, Texas, won first place in the essay contest with his writing about the positive effects of hurricanes. Finalists were Andrew Wong, Sarah Eltinge, Yash Singh, and Morgan Halsey. Students in grades 6-9 wrote essays of up to 300 words addressing this year’s theme, “Earth Connections.”

Congratulations to the winners, all our finalists, and the hundreds of students and others who entered. Each first-place winner will receive $300 and a “Faces of Earth” DVD set. Entries submitted by winners and finalists may be viewed at

IYPE-Earth Science Week
Photo Contest Has a Winner

Lutz Geissler, a 24-year-old from Freiberg, Germany, won first place in the first-ever International Year of Planet Earth-Earth Science Week Photo Contest. The prize-winning photo features a geology student investigating mica schists against the dramatic backdrop of the Eastern Alps of Saulpe, Austria. Geissler receives $500, a “Faces of Earth” DVD set, and recognition online.

Benjamin Acevedo Peralta of Desamparados, Costa Rica, who came in second, receives $300. Simon Jones of Pontypridd, United Kingdom, who placed third, receives $100. Finalists were Jennifer Connolly of Berkley, California, and Yotso Yanev of Sofia, Bulgaria. Submissions illustrated the theme “Exploring Earth Science around the World.”

Congratulations to all who entered. Entries submitted by winners and finalists may be viewed at

You Can Help Improve
Earth Science Week 2009

Want to help make next year’s Earth Science Week an even better experience for you and other participants? Take a few minutes to fill out the survey in the e-mail you’ll receive on December 1 from PS International, an independent evaluation firm.

The survey invites you to weigh in on questions such as which Earth Science Week resources and activities are most useful. If Earth science education is important to you, please invest a few minutes to help strengthen Earth Science Week.

Get Benefits, Become an
Earth Science Week Fan

Earth Science Week reached a whole new audience last year through Facebook, one of the Internet’s most popular social networking websites. Facebook enabled us to connect geoscience educators, students, and others with people who work, study, and live around them. Now we’re taking that group to a new level.

AGI recently launched an Earth Science Week Fan Page on Facebook. When you become an Earth Science Week Fan, you instantly gain access to geoscience videos, begin receiving important updates and information, and help spread the word about Earth Science Week.

You can join the group by creating or using your own Facebook account. To become an Earth Science Week Fan, go to

AGU Fall Meeting Offers Opportunities

The American Geophysical Union (AGU), an AGI Member Society and Earth Science Week partner, will hold its annual fall meeting next month, December 15-19, in San Francisco. Geophysicists from around the world will attend the meeting to discuss the latest issues affecting the Earth and various Earth science topics.

Geophysical Information for Teachers (GIFT) workshops will enable secondary science teachers to learn about the latest geoscience research, explore new classroom resources, and visit exhibits and technical sessions. Find out more about GIFT workshops at

Prior to scientific sessions, there will be a free workshop on December 14 titled “Communicating your Science to the Public.” Journalists and communication experts will speak on how to convey scientific findings to the general public. For information on the workshop, see

Undergraduate and graduate-level geoscience students are encouraged to attend. The registration deadline is in two weeks, on November 26. For more information, see

Call for Presentations on
Environmental Education

The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) has issued a call for presentations and workshops for its Annual Conference and Research Symposium in Portland, Oregon, October 6-10, 2009.

Titled “The Power of Partnerships: Creative Leadership in Environmental Education,” the conference will focus on environmental education topics ranging from climate change to integrating the arts and early childhood education. You don’t need to be a member to submit or present. The submission deadline for both conference and symposium is February 1, 2009.

To submit an abstract, go to To find out more, visit

Applications Open for
Einstein Fellowship

Outstanding K-12 science, math, and technology teachers are invited to apply now for an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship. Einstein Fellows are paid to spend a school year in Washington, D.C., serving in a federal agency or on Capitol Hill. To be considered for an Einstein Fellowship for the 2009-10 school year, you must apply and submit three letters of recommendation online by January 13, 2009.

Apply online at For more information, visit or contact Liz Burck at

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of 45 geoscientific 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 interests 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 resources and interaction with the environment. For contact information, please visit


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