“This is the first time we’ve participated in Earth Science Week, and we’ve jumped in with both feet,” says Richard Slaughter of the Geology Museum at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is working with the Children’s Museum, local schools and a variety of geoscience organizations that are sponsoring activities every day during the fourth annual Earth Science Week this month, Oct. 7-13.
Slaughter’s contagious enthusiasm is typical, and it is this spirit that has fueled Earth Science Week, an annual celebration of the earth sciences that the American Geological Institute (AGI) initiated in 1998. “We established Earth Science Week as a means to show the public how important the earth sciences are in our daily lives,” says AGI President Larry Woodfork. “And the response each year has been bigger and better.”
AGI started the celebration, but it has since taken on a life of its own. Last year, scores of celebrations — field trips, demonstrations, lecture series, film series, exhibits, school visits and open houses — took place in all 50 states, and in Australia, Canada and at least 20 other countries. Eighteen AGI member societies and more than 100 state geological surveys, regional societies, academic geoscience departments, museums, libraries and federal agencies hosted these events. Thirty governors, the mayors of several cities and President Clinton issued proclamations and messages supporting Earth Science Week 2000.
Here, we highlight a few examples of how some organizations are celebrating
the earth sciences this year. We hope these perspectives give you a sense
of the growth of Earth Science Week programs and inspire you to participate.
Julia A. Jackson, AGI
true: field trips
The Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and other members of the earth science community will sponsor field trips free and open to the public, one on Oct. 6 to Peavine Peak, the other on Oct. 13 to three fossil collecting sites. Minerals are the highlight at Peavine Pike, where geologists will teach about the geological and mineral history of the 8,266-high peak near Reno. Participants can collect piemontite, copper minerals, magnetite and schorlite. The Oct. 13 trip will take people to a fossil gastropod locality near Nightingale hot springs off Interstate-80, another near the Mopung Hills off U.S. Highway 95, and a Miocene fossil fish locality near Hazen.
The Kansas Geological Survey will also take earth enthusiasts on a field
trip, just as it did during Earth Science Week 2000. On Oct. 7, survey
geologists took 50 people to four places in northeastern Kansas, where
they could learn about sedimentary rocks, glacial deposits and fossils.
The trip was a huge success, in spite of unseasonably chilly weather,”
says Liz Brosius, assistant editor for the survey’s Geology Extension program.
“In fact, we had to turn away over 100 people and ended up repeating the
trip, twice, in April to accommodate some of these folks.”
To start Earth Science Week, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Director
Chip Groat joins the Delaware Geological Survey at the University of Delaware
in Lewes on Oct. 7 to celebrate the state survey’s 50th anniversary.
“Earth Science Week gives us an outstanding opportunity to raise public
awareness of the role science plays in finding solutions to many of the
societal issues that confront our growing population,” Groat says. “USGS
is celebrating Earth Science Week with a diverse array of events, activities
and approaches, from Web sites to public service announcements to open
houses for our local communities.”
The USGS Earth Science Week Web page features an online earth history quiz and downloadable “Master of Earth History” certificate. The site also lists USGS activities at many locations across the country and links to sites for more information on Earth Science Week activities. In conjunction with Earth Science Week, the popular USGS Learning Web will unveil its redesigned and improved portal to educational resources and real-time data for students, teachers and lifelong learners of every age.
“Earth Science Week is a time for all of us to reflect with pride on
how our science serves society, and to rededicate ourselves to providing
the impartial scientific knowledge and understanding needed to preserve
and protect our changing world and to ensure the future health and prosperity
of our nation,” Groat says.
Kathleen Gohn, USGS
A grand opening
The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) observes Earth Science
Week with the Oct. 11 opening of its new Geoscience Center in Tulsa, Okla.
The SEG Foundation sponsored the center, which will draw in students, using
interactive exhibits and hundreds of historical instruments and inventions
based around geophysics. The center will show that geophysics is a growing
field applied to the discovery of fuels that run the modern world, fault
lines that could trigger massive earthquakes, or minerals used in the booming
microtechnology field. It also offers information on careers and scholarships,
and will be open to school field trips in the center and to nearby fossil-rich
Susan Henley, SEG
For the second year, the Geological Society of America will work with
Recreation Equipment Inc. (REI) to co-host “Adventure Geology” presentations
in the auditorium of REI’s Denver store. Through these presentations to
the public, geoscientists share their enthusiasm and knowledge. This year,
Greg McDonald, Paleontology Program Coordinator of the National Park Service,
will give a special presentation on “Fossil Treasures of America’s Parks.”
Other presentations will be “Avalanche Safety in Colorado,” “Geology and
Climbing: Why Colorado has it all,” and “The Stone Wilderness: Visiting
the great cave areas of the world.”
Kathryn Columbus, GSA
grows in Texas
For the fourth year in a row, communities throughout Texas will host educational events this month to celebrate earth science. “Earth Science Week in Texas is definitely evolving, growing and expanding,” says Scott Tinker, director of the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology. The bureau is hosting a Web site summarizing all the week’s activities in the state. “We built on things we’ve done in previous years.”
Austin’s Earth Science Week Consortium will sponsor its second annual career fair, which will bring more than 600 middle school students and teachers to the University of Texas-Austin on Oct. 9. A book drive for the Austin Public Library is also underway. Last year, the drive raised $2,000, which bought 99 earth science books for the library.
Two years ago, Austin’s theme was a daily earth science question and answer, which the local NBC affiliate’s news program broadcast daily. Barnes and Noble Booksellers also held activities at their stores. The Austin Earth Science Week Consortium has scheduled these activities again for this year.
College Station, Texas, will celebrate earth science with an open house
at the Department of Geology and Geophysics on the Texas A&M campus
Oct. 6. This event is part of an ongoing celebration to commemorate A&M’s
In Houston, Earth Science Week kicks off Oct. 6 with a full day of family activities at the Museum of Natural Science, followed by a symposium, “Views of the Earth.” The following weekend, two public field trips will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the historic Spindletop oil field.
Geoscientists from San Antonio’s South Texas Geological Society will visit schools and act as resources for teachers. Trinity University will also broadcast spots about the geology of San Antonio and South Texas over the university radio station, KRTU, 91.7 FM.
In Midland, more than 40 geoscientists will tell students in local schools
about their careers. A TV weatherman, the local Gem Club and the astronomy
club will be presenters, and a joint program with Midland College aims
to reach an estimated 3,500 students to pique their interest in geology.
Sigrid Clift, Bureau of Economic Geology
Collaboration is the buzzword in Delaware. The Delaware Geological Survey
has participated every year in the annual Coast Day, sponsored by the University
of Delaware’s College of Marine Studies and which last year attracted 10,000
people. This year, the Sea Grant College Program, part of the College of
Marine Studies, celebrates its 25th anniversary, and the Delaware Geological
Survey celebrates its 50th. Both celebrations are happening during Earth
Science Week. “Because we do a lot of work in the coast area, we decided
we could use Coast Day as a kick-off for our anniversary and for Earth
Science Week,” says John Talley, associate director of the Delaware Geological
Survey. Survey scientists work throughout the year with university scientists,
including recent collaboration to study groundwater discharge into
some of the state’s inland bays.
The survey will feature displays at the university’s Lewes campus, where children will have the chance to dig for Delaware fossils in a sand box, while adults can get a close-up view of the survey’s drill rig on display. The survey also plans to give away maps of the historic shorelines on Cape Henlopen and bookmarks with the geologic time scale. A Rock ‘N Fossil Road Show, similar to the Antiques Road Show, will allow people to bring in their rock and fossil specimens and have geologists identify as many as possible.
in the parks
The National Park System preserves and protects some of Earth’s most pristine natural wonders and offers an amazing opportunity to engage the public and raise awareness about the natural world. Although some parks feature earth science education year round, Earth Science Week provides a unique opportunity for all parks to showcase their regular science programs. During Earth Science Week, many parks choose to focus on earth systems education by guiding field trips, hosting speakers, putting together special exhibits or coordinating activities for school groups.
The National Park Service has participated in Earth Science Week since its inception four years ago. This year, the Park Service is stepping up its level of participation in order to recognize the value of earth science education to the parks and the public. The Natural Resource Program Center (NRPC) in Denver is providing educational materials to all National Park areas. These publications from the American Geological Institute address several critical areas in earth science education from a non-specialist perspective and promise to be well received by Park interpretive centers.
Melanie Ransmeier, National Park Service