Earth Science Week Update March 2010

American Geosciences Institute
Vol. 8, No. 3: March 2010


Plan Activities Now for
Earth Science Week 2010

Earth Science Week 2010 (October 10-16) won’t take place for some months - so now is the perfect time to start planning your activities! Don’t wait until the hectic first weeks of the next school year. Take this opportunity to make a wish list: How would you like your students celebrate Earth Science Week 2010?

You can promote this year’s theme - “Exploring Energy” - by planning activities to help your students learn the geoscience behind Earth’s climate. Consider some of the energy-related links offered by leading Earth Science Week partners such as USGS, NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and ExxonMobil at And conduct activities featured on the Earth Science Week website at

Leading up to the October celebration, you’ll see more and more Earth Science Week events, both local and nationwide, listed online at For more ideas, read about successful past events at or see recommendations on how to get involved at

Earth Science Teaching
Award Winner Announced

Jason Pittman, lead science resource teacher at Hollin Meadows Science and Math Focus School in Alexandria, Virginia, has been named the 2010 recipient of the Edward C. Roy, Jr. Award for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching. Pittman, who started his career as an Internet design entrepreneur, went on to earn a master’s degree in education and engage elementary students with inquiry-based, hands-on learning in the Earth sciences.

“What makes Mr. Pittman truly outstanding,” says Principal Jon Gates, “is his ability to turn students on to science. His caring attitude and superior knowledge of the subject make him effective with students from kindergarten to sixth grades and at all levels of ability.”

Pittman will be presented with the award at the National Science Teachers Association 2010 National Conference in Philadelphia this week. Finalists for the award are Greer Lynn Harvell of Clifford C. Meigs Middle School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and John Schaefers of Ingomar Middle School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Given annually, AGI’s Edward C. Roy, Jr. Award recognizes one classroom teacher from kindergarten to eighth grade for leadership and innovation in Earth science education. This award is named in honor of Dr. Edward C. Roy, Jr., who was a strong and dedicated supporter of Earth science education. To learn more, please see

Earth Science Week at
NSTA 2010 Conference

Visit the organizers of Earth Science Week in the Exhibit Hall of the National Science Teachers Association Conference later this week in Philadelphia. We’ll have materials and demonstrations dealing with Earth Science Week as well as additional curriculum, training, and other products and services available from the American Geosciences Institute (AGI).

The conference takes place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on March 18-21, 2010. Please feel free to stop by our booth for activities, resources, and information from AGI and a host of Earth Science Week partners. For more information on the conference, see

Study: Light Science Fire
Before Middle School

Key childhood experiences that sparked scientists’ initial interest in the subject may come earlier than middle school, according to a new study by Robert Tai of the University of Virginia’s science education program and Adam Maltese of Indiana University’s geological sciences program.

The researchers analyzed 76 interviews of scientists and graduate students for experiences they reported that first engaged them in science. Analysis indicated that these key events happened at an earlier age than reported in much previous research. The majority (65 percent) of participants reported their interest began before middle school.

Results also confirmed science instruction trends that may favor male students, Tai said. He related his experience as a former high school physics teacher, when many experiments involved throwing objects like arrows and darts. “A lot of those types of examples are not related to the experience of most females,” Tai said. “The study highlights the importance of gender equity in school science.”

The analysis had implications for education policy. “We’re concerned that policy right now is so focused on secondary students and usually centers on just making them take more science and math,” Maltese said. “Our results indicate that current policy initiatives likely miss a lot of students who may be interested early on.” For more about the study, see

Tap Live Webstreaming
On State of the Arctic

The State of the Arctic Conference (, taking place March 16-19, 2010, will focus on understanding the arctic system, arctic change, its connections to the Earth system, and environmental change.

The conference will be webstreamed to allow virtual participation for classrooms, the public, and others. Webstreaming includes real-time video and text chat to allow participants to make comments and ask questions. You’re welcome to participate for free. Organizers ask only that you register at the webstreaming site.

Conference webstreaming begins at 8:30 a.m. EDT tomorrow, March 16 at The full conference program is available at

Study Shows Disconnect
Between Girls and Science

Earth Science Week 2010 will feature the second annual Women in the Geosciences Day to raise awareness among young women about exciting opportunities in Earth science studies and careers. Why? Consider the findings of a new study by Northern Illinois University researchers.

High school girls are bored, disengaged, and stressed in science classes when compared to boys, according to the study of 244 high school students and 13 science teachers during the 2008-09 academic year. Classroom discussions are the only activity to score among the top three most engaging for both boys and girls and are perhaps the optimum way to connect with all science students.

Even though many girls earn good grades in science, they still often feel less competent than their grades would indicate. And even though more boys than girls told the researchers that science is challenging, boys reported more confidence in their skills and a higher level of concentration in class.

Stay tuned to this newsletter for details on this year’s Women in the Geosciences Day (October 14). For more on the study, see

Gear Up Now for
National Lab Day

While it’s being celebrated officially this year on May 5, organizers emphasize that National Lab Day is more than just a day. It’s a nationwide initiative to build local communities of support fostering discovery-based science experiences for K-12 students.

The initiative is connecting teachers with the scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians who can help make science come alive for students. The effort emerged from collaboration among the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the White House Domestic Policy Council, the American Chemical Society, the National Science Teachers Association, and other scientific professional groups last year.

Through the program website, college students, parents, volunteers, and others will be matched to teachers’ projects, forming a local community of support. National Lab Day will hold some celebratory events in the first week of May, but it is intended to provide a starting point for ongoing relationships between science professionals and local schools. Learn more at

Earth Science Week 2009
Highlights Now Online

Last year’s Earth Science Week celebration was a unique, unprecedented success. The program reached 40 million people overall. Individuals in all 50 states and over 18 countries participated. Nearly 80,000 people visited the program website. New partners joined the effort, new resources were introduced, and news of the event was carried by outlets ranging from The Washington Post to NBC.

To continually improve Earth Science Week, AGI annually tracks the program’s impact, compiles new clips, and commissions an independent evaluation. To view the full report on Earth Science Week 2009, please see

Earth Science Week 2010
Closing With DC Festival

Will you be in Washington, D.C. during Earth Science Week 2010? If so, please join us. AGI will be among over 350 leading science and engineering organizations offering two weeks of free events - overlapping Earth Science Week - that will lead up to a two-day Science Expo on October 23-24, 2010, on the National Mall.

More than 750 exhibits spanning energy, aerospace, climatology, and many other scientific disciplines will be free to visitors at the Science Expo of the first USA Science & Engineering Festival. Satellite events will be held across the country by universities, student science clubs, national laboratories, and other groups.

One reason to get young people excited about science and engineering today is that that’s where many of tomorrow’s jobs will be. The U.S. science and engineering workforce is now at more than 5.5 million and averages a 3.2 percent growth rate, about double that of the American workforce as a whole, according to the National Science Board.

AGI, founder and organizer of Earth Science Week, will be one of several groups representing the Earth sciences at the Science Expo. For a full list of exhibitors, partners and sponsors, see more at

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of 46 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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