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Earth Science Week


Impact Formal and Informal Education  |  Encourage Others to Participate

There are many opportunities to get involved with your community via formal and informal education during Earth Science Week. No matter what you select, we encourage you to involve both educators and scientists in your Earth Science Week project. Bringing together science knowledge with teaching skills is the best way to ensure the success of your project. Scientist partners can be found in universities, geoscience consulting companies, and state and federal agencies (such as state and federal geological surveys). Educators can be accessed through district or state science supervisors, local schools, museums, and science centers.

Note: This is also your opportunity to provide other educators and scientists with the opportunity to help create a discriminating, educated society committed to the responsible use of Earth and its resources. Consider asking your colleagues who are not currently involved in outreach activities to assist you with your project.


S   Activities that geoscientists generally have the resources/ability to initiate.
  E Activities that geoscience educators generally have the resources/ability to initiate.

Opportunities to impact formal and informal education

S   If your field site is close, invite students or educators
to assist you in collecting data for a day.

This is a wonderful way to give educators and students an idea of what field research is all about (plus you have some extra sample-carriers, which never hurts). Contact your local school district or state or district science supervisor to find interested educators. Make sure to plan some time at the end of the day to discuss and review what participants have learned and to answer questions.
S   Visit a classroom.
Give a presentation (including discussion and hands-on activities) to a class. Begin by talking to geoscience educators at your children's or your neighbor's children's schools about topics that would add to their curriculum, and offer to do a special presentation for them. If these educators can't take advantage of your offer, they can probably recommend someone who can. Some topics to consider include careers in geoscience, life of a geoscientist, geological hazards in your local area, local geology and weather, and household minerals.
  E Invite a scientist to your classroom or after-school center.
This is a great opportunity for students to find out first hand what the life of a scientist is like. Contact local geoscience organizations (consulting companies, research institutes, universities) in your area to locate a scientist who might be interested in talking with your students during Earth Science Week.
S E Talk to a local school board about the importance of Earth Science education
Request an audience with a local school board to discuss this topic. Bring concrete examples of successful earth science curricula and ways in which earth science examples can be successfully integrated into existing curricula.
S E Set up e-mail or a "cyber-chat" so students can communicate with scientists.
Another way to enrich students' geoscience learning experience is to find a scientist or educator with whom you can communicate in an electronic format. Scientists can easily answer questions for educators via e-mail. Alternately, set up a cyber-chat so students can talk directly to a scientist. Marie Fullerton, an elementary school technology coordinator, has set up several live chats between scientists and classes at her school. For more information on how to set up cyber-chats, contact Marie.
S   Locate and donate geological equipment to schools.
Many schools do not have budgets to buy even basic scientific equipment, let alone expensive equipment. Spend some time gathering old or superfluous equipment from your work place, and donate the equipment to a local school during Earth Science Week. Complete your donation with an informal seminar on why and how geoscientists use each piece. If you are able, you might also provide examples of how the equipment may be used in the classroom.
S   Develop rock and mineral kits to give to local educators.
Rock and mineral kits can be invaluable to educators, many of whom don't have the resources to purchase them. Enlist your colleagues in different areas of the country to send you rocks and minerals common to their area. You might consider organizing a group of colleagues who are interested in making kits for their local educators to engage in a national rock swap.
S E Organize a professional development workshop for educators.
Work with scientists and local educators to develop a short "training session" for educators. Contact the school district to find out about giving educators credit for attending the workshop.
S E Organize a contest around an earth science issue of local importance.
Work with local scientists, educators and program directors from schools, community/youth centers, and/or daycare facilities to brainstorm contest ideas and audiences (many of these groups can be found in the phone book, through your chamber of commerce, or through the school district). Encourage local businesses to provide prizes or to replicate and distribute the winning design on a product. Suggested contests could include thematic essays, murals, posters, t-shirt designs, and placemats. Work with your local media to advertise the event and display winning entries.
S   Host an open house at your research institute, company, or organization for the public.
Give the public the opportunity to see what scientists do! This greatly enhances their appreciation for that work, while communicating to them that scientists are people too. Make sure that your open house receives media coverage before, during, and after the event. Consider hosting an open house every year during Earth Science Week so that the community begins to anticipate it.
S E Work with scouting organizations on geoscience badges.
Encourage local troops to complete geoscience badges by offering to assist them with project execution. Contact your local council for a list of troops near you. Local councils may be found in the phone book or on the Internet.
S   Give a presentation or lead a field trip for a local after-school center.
Spend an afternoon showing kids what the life of a geoscientist is really like. Make your presentations light and entertaining, and include pictures or slides of places you've gone. For help structuring your presentation, work with the program director or a local educator. Check out local programs run by the I Have A Dream Foundation and the YMCA for opportunities. Other local groups can be found by contacting your school district, chamber of commerce, or community information center.
S   Lead a field trip to a local, state, or national park in your region.
Park and recreation systems often have educational infrastructures in place that can save you a lot of legwork in planning your outreach event. Approach parks and offer to lead field trips or give evening slide shows to park guests. Alternatively, ask the park coordinators if they have already planned an Earth Science Week event to which you could contribute your scientific expertise.
S E Arrange to have earth science books on display at a local bookstore or library.
Contact local bookstores or libraries to suggest that they create a special exhibit during Earth Science Week. Offer to supply a book list or give a presentation. Check GSA's recommended reading list.
S   Lead a field trip on urban geoscience issues.
Many folks who live in urban environments don't realize that geoscience issues surround them daily. Lead a field trip for city officials, educators, students, senior citizens, or other interested groups emphasizing the role geoscience plays in the quality of life they enjoy.
S E Read books to kids at your local library.
Contact your local library to volunteer to read geoscience books to kids during "story time" (many libraries offer programs like this).
S E Give a geoscience presentation to kids or adults through your local library, nursing home, retirement community, or park and recreation department.
Talk about local fossil-hunting locations, do a hands-on rock and minerals show, or present the geologic history of your local region. For an interesting twist, present a film festival and discussion series on facts and myths concerning geology in the movies (for example, Dante's Peak, Volcano, Water World, Jurassic Park, and Deep Impact).
S E Recruit members of a senior citizen community to assist you in creating a community mural, model, or rock garden using local geology as the theme.
Senior citizens are wonderful resources for creative ideas, are generally interested students, and often have extra time to devote to activities such as these. Contact your local AARP branch to discuss opportunities in your community.
S   Talk to local policy makers about earth science issues of importance to the health and safety of the community.
Consider giving a talk to your city council or taking council members and other officials on a field trip to examine the interactions between nature and society in your community. You might also consider putting together an Earth Science Week proclamation to take to your city council.
S E Write an article for a local newspaper.
This is a great way to get the word out about what Earth Science Week is and where to find great local opportunities. Be sure to call local science organizations to inquire about their plans. This serves the dual purpose of making your article more useful to the readers and prompting any organizations who had not yet planned activities to begin the planning process.
S E Invite a geoscience "celebrity" to speak in your area.
High profile public figures always draw people's attention. Don Clarke (a member of GSA's Partners for Education Program) has brought several public figures into California schools, and is willing to talk with others interested in setting up similar opportunities in their communities.

Opportunities to encourage other scientists and educators to participate in outreach

S E Sponsor an activity to match local geoscientists with local educators.
Sponsor an activity through which local educators and scientists can meet and learn about each other's interests and abilities. This allows educators to find scientists they feel they can approach for expertise and classroom visits, and gives scientists an opportunity to make some local outreach contacts. Scientists can be found at universities, geoscience consulting companies, and state and national geological surveys. Educators can be accessed through district or state science supervisors and/or school principals.
S   Organize a student outreach club to encourage undergraduate and graduate students to get involved in community service projects.
For those entering geoscience careers today, communicating your knowledge and skills to your community is of vital importance, both to the quality of public life and to your future funding. Student outreach clubs are wonderful vehicles for instilling commitment to community service in your students. Once the group is established, it requires a comparatively small time commitment from a senior advisor.
S   Convince your superior to ask employees to take a paid half day or whole day to do outreach during Earth Science Week.
For many people, the greatest barrier to working on outreach projects is the inability to take work time to complete the project. Securing a paid half or whole day for every employee to participate in Earth Science Week activities is a terrific way to increase the size of the audience we can reach during this week, while giving those who don't normally participate in outreach activities an opportunity to experience the benefits of getting involved. If you manage to secure this time, consider organizing an informal workshop on local opportunities and resources for your coworkers.
S E Conduct a workshop for coworkers concerning how to find outreach opportunities.
Many of your colleagues might be interested in working with the public if they are more comfortable with the process of finding opportunities. A workshop is a great way to assist your colleagues in finding opportunities during Earth Science Week. Put together a list of local resources and opportunities as a handout.

For more ideas, check out Great Ideas on
AGI's Earth Science Week Web site.