Earth Science Week Update March 2020


American Geosciences Institute
Vol. 18, No. 3: March 2020


Earth Science Week Adds Geoscience to Earth Day

Educators and young people worldwide will celebrate Earth Day 2020 on April 22 with activities, experiments, and investigations exploring how our world works - and those in the know will be tapping the wealth of education resources available through Earth Science Week.

Although Earth Science Week 2020 will be celebrated this October, the program offers education materials, information, and tools throughout the year. This year, for example, Earth Science Week provides education tools highlighting the theme of "Earth Materials in Our Lives," including learning activities focusing on rocks, minerals, raw materials, and natural resources.

The Earth Science Week website offers hundreds of free classroom activities, Spanish-language resources, videos, visualizations, webcasts, local events and organizations, competitions and awards, and careers information. Learn more about Earth Science Week.

Get Involved With Art for National Fossil Day

To celebrate the 11th annual National Fossil Day during Earth Science Week 2020, the National Park Service is hosting an art contest celebrating fossil resources and paleontological heritage.

Open to U.S. residents of any age, the contest focuses on the theme "Life of the Paleozoic Oceans." This theme is inspired by our 2020 National Fossil Day logo, which features the organisms of the Permian Reef of the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas and New Mexico.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, October 2, 2020. Awards are given for entrants age 8 and under, 9-13, 14-18, and 18 and over. Artwork contest winners will be selected by a panel of judges, and winners will be highlighted on the National Fossil Day website. Read guidelines and download and entry form on the contest website.

The 'Critical Zone': Explore with CZOs

For an eye-opening view of our planet, check out the K-12 Education page of the Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs) program, a longtime Earth Science Week partner.

The CZOs program is a National Science Foundation-supported interdisciplinary effort that serves the international scientific community through research, infrastructure, data, and models. The aim is to enhance scientific understanding of what happens in the "critical zone" where chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes shape Earth's surface and support terrestrial life.

On the CZO Education and Outreach site, you'll find educational activities coordinated by the CZO National Office to engage K-12 educators and students. Many additional K-12 Education and Outreach activities are run by the CZO program, mostly led by individual observatories. To see examples of those efforts, select an observatory from the "Move laterally" menu online.

Webcast Details 'Focus Days' of Earth Science Week

What does Earth Science Week 2020 have in store for you? Each day during the week, you can focus on a different area of Earth science. Go online today to view a free webcast about the "Focus Days" of this year's celebration:

  • International EarthCache Day (Sunday, October 11)
  • Earth Science Literacy Day (Monday, October 12)
  • Earth Observation Day (Tuesday, October 13)
  • National Fossil Day (Wednesday, October 14)
  • Geoscience for Everyone Day (Thursday, October 15)
  • Geologic Map Day (Friday, October 16)
  • International Archaeology Day (Saturday, October 17)

This free webcast provides an overview of opportunities, activities, and resources available. The roughly four-minute tutorial includes a wealth of online links, which viewers can click during the presentation to review available resources.

To view the webcast, visit online. In the coming months, look for additional webcasts on Earth Science Week 2020: "Earth Materials in Our Lives." To learn more about Focus Days, see online.

AAG Offers Geography Resources for Teachers

The Association of American Geographers (AAG), an AGI member society, offers an array of web resources for K-12 and college-level instruction. These materials support geographic approaches to Earth science education.

AAG's Center for Global Geography Education, offers online modules for undergraduate courses in geography and related social and environmental sciences. All modules feature a conceptual framework, regional case studies, and collaborative projects.

GeoSTART helps middle- and high-school students develop geography, Earth science, and spatial thinking skills using NASA Earth Observing Missions remote sensing imagery and related data. Go online for free activities and materials.

Pecora Award Recognizes Geoscience Contribution 

The William T. Pecora Award is presented annually to individuals or groups that have made outstanding contributions toward understanding the Earth by means of remote sensing.

Sponsored jointly by the U.S. Department of the Interior and NASA, the award is open to any individual or group working in the field of remote sensing of the Earth. Nominations are accepted for public and private sector individuals, teams, organizations, and professional societies. Individual and group achievements should be peer-reviewed and documented in industry-recognized and scientifically credible publications.

The Award Committee must receive nominations for the 2020 award by May 1, 2020. Questions can be directed to For more information, see the program website.

GSA Offering Field Awards for Students

The Geological Society of America (GSA), a longtime Earth Science Week partner, currently is advertising two field awards for students - the J. David Lowell Field Camp Scholarship and the GSA/ExxonMobil Bighorn Basin Field Award.

The Lowell Scholarship is GSA's annual award for undergraduate students to attend summer field camp. Students are awarded $2,000 each to attend the field camp of their choice based on diversity, economic/financial need, and merit. For more information, see online.

The Bighorn Basin Award, focusing on a field seminar in the Bighorn Basin of Montana and Wyoming, emphasizes multi-disciplinary integrated basin analysis. The program seeks to energize and enhance the education of geology students and faculty by introducing them to the breadth and challenges of integrated basin and petroleum systems analysis. This July/August, undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty will participate in this field program, with all expenses covered including hotel, airfare, and meals. Learn more online.

The program seeks to energize and enhance the education of geology students and faculty by introducing them to the breadth and challenges of integrated basin and petroleum systems analysis. This July/August, undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty will participate in this field program, with all expenses covered including hotel, airfare, and meals. Learn more online.

You must be a GSA member to apply for these awards. The application deadline for both awards is March 27, 2020.

IRIS Reaches Students at 'Teachable Moments'

Want to delve into the science behind current events with your students? Start with a visit to a website operated by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), an Earth Science Week partner.

IRIS offers a set of online resources - Recent Earthquake Teachable Moments - dealing with recent events of interest to seismologists, such as the magnitude-7.7 earthquake between Cuba and Jamaica on January 28, 2020. View PowerPoint presentations, animations, and visualizations, as well as links to Spanish-language materials and USGS data. Additional resources address other quakes worldwide.

Founded in 1984 with National Science Foundation support, IRIS is a nonprofit consortium of over 100 universities engaged in the acquisition, management, and distribution of seismological data. To explore Teachable Moments and more, visit IRIS.

Examine Natural Systems in 'Windows on Earth'

Science teachers and students might want to gaze through "Windows on Earth," an online educational project that features photographs taken by astronauts on the International Space Station. Each day, astronauts take hundreds of photos - many focusing on "Earth and human activity" - for science research, education, and public outreach.

This web site provides free public access to virtually all of these photos, updated at least weekly. The site is operated by TERC, an educational non-profit, in collaboration with the Association of Space Explorers (the professional association of flown astronauts and cosmonauts), the Virtual High School, and CASIS (Center for Advancement of Science in Space). Technical support is provided by NASA's Crew Earth Observation Program.

Windows on Earth also operates software on the International Space Station, as a window-side aide to help astronauts identify priority targets for photography. The images help show Earth from a global perspective. All images are in the public domain, credited to NASA. Visit online.

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 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, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment. For contact information, please visit online. To subscribe to this newsletter, visit online and submit your email address.