NAGT Opportunities from the Earth System Education Summit

published Mar 19, 2010 8:42am

by David Steer (University of Akron), Editor and Immediate Past President

The focus of this column is to inform you of preliminary outcomes from Earth System Education Summit held in Houston Texas this past February and to briefly point out how NAGT members can become involved in these efforts. This summit was organized by the American Geological Institute (AGI) working with its member societies, federal agencies, school districts, universities and other stakeholders in geoscience education. The meeting convened to address the following broadly defined goals:

  • Establish a formal consensus about challenges facing ESS education.
  • Identify the initiatives, roles, and players needed to address these challenges.
  • Identify teams across organizations to work on specific projects.
  • Identify funding sources for projects and efforts to address challenges.
  • Devise a plan for moving forward on U.S. participation in the International Earth Science Olympiad.

The meeting included individual presentations, panel discussions and break-out working group activities over 2 ½ days. Outcomes from this meeting included ten "Big Ideas" that should be considered work in progress. This means you (and NAGT) are in a position to contribute to their development and implementation. The ideas are listed/summarized below along with comments about potential NAGT roles. Please contact any NAGT officer if you have an interest or would like to become involved in one of these areas.

  1. The geoscience community needs to speak with a common voice.
    This is one of the roles we feel NAGT leadership already plays for its members. On your behalf, we send representatives to meetings such as this and regularly coordinate with other related societies. You as a member can best contribute to this common voice by providing input to national leadership as you become aware of local geosciences education issues that might be of broader interest, by reviewing and providing comments to NAGT position statements and by participating in regional and national level NAGT forums.
  2. We need a public relations campaign for Earth System Science (ESS) education – is there a high profile champion out there?
    Since NAGT seeks to foster improvement in the teaching of the earth sciences at all levels, we frequently find ourselves championing ESS education at a variety of levels, though we hardly consider ourselves public relations experts. Feel free to contact NAGT leadership if you would like to contribute to this discussion and we will see about getting you involved with these efforts.
  3. ESS education needs to be inclusive. Everyone should have a basic understanding of ESS (English as a Second Language Principles).
    This is an area where individual NAGT members with expertise related to all ages, as well as ethnicities, are best positioned to provide needed expertise and input to this working group. If you are interested, NAGT would be happy to see about getting you directly involved with the working group addressing these issues.
  4. Teacher professional development for ESS needs to be organized nationwide.
    NAGT is taking a lead in the teacher preparation working group. We have already established the NAGT Literacy list for information and discussion as the standards and literacy pieces move forward. NAGT already sponsors professional development activities such as Cutting Edge that is involved in a variety of workforce issues. Many of you also work in this area and are well positioned to make a strong national impact. Let us know if you would like to be involved in these ongoing discussions.
  5. There needs to be a state-level network to deal with crises in ESS education.
    NAGT follows such issues for you at the national level. We respond with formal letters where appropriate and by notifying NAGT members in affected states regarding the pertinent issues. You can best participate here by becoming an involved citizen in your state when such action is requested.
  6. There needs to be a campaign nationwide to encourage institutions of higher learning to accept ESS high school courses as laboratory science courses.
    We have not yet gotten directly involved in this type of activity at the national level. This is an area where NAGT could really help. If you have an interest, NAGT would welcome your input and/or participation.
  7. The geoscience community needs to be politically savvy in ensuring ESS inclusion in national and state standards.
    NAGT does participate in such activities at the national level and encourages our members to do so at local levels when we become aware of opportunities. As NAGT members, you can help by notifying your regional and national leadership when these issues are raised in your states.
  8. The geoscience community needs to work with guidance counselors and parents to raise the profile of ESS in schools: for general ESS literacy, as a rigorous science course for college admission and as a career option.
    Because of the local nature of these initiatives, here again is an area where members can become involved at the local level by engaging in their communities.
  9. The Advanced Placement Earth Science Exam can legitimize ESS in schools. What does it take to get a critical mass of students to convince the College Board to move forward?
    This is an area where national NAGT worked with other national agencies in the past to promote this effort. We anticipate working with in the future to promote similar goals. Presently the College Board has not acted on ESS AP test development.
  10. Look to the International Earth Science Olympiad (IESO) as a possible public relations opportunity for ESS education and a chance to engage students at all levels in solving local geoscience problems.
    As plans for the IESO move forward, this is an area where individual members with expertise and interest could become involved by partnering with local schools to develop student-centered research problems.

Again, these activities are very much in their beginning stages. If something here has spurred you interest, let us know. Better yet, organize a group of your colleagues interested in the same topic. We at national NAGT will ensure your voice is heard as these activities develop over the next several months.

NAGT Opportunities from the Earth System Education Summit --Discussion  

I've never heard of the IESO before and it sounds really exciting! Can we hear from the US team? I'd love to see something more local like MathCounts for geology. It doesn't exist, right?


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yeah! I'm in! I've been fighting for an AP Earth Science course for about 9 years now, AP said they wouldn't even consider it as the "had too many science AP tests already". I have also been working in California for the acceptance of the Earth Science course as a lab science as per the UC requirements- so far, no luck. my email contact:!!!!


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