Who Are NASA's Earth Explorers?
The elementary school student questioning if El Niño occurs anywhere besides the Pacific Ocean. The researcher investigating connections between Arctic ozone depletion and global climate change. The citizen scientist interested in how changing land cover and use affects animal migration patterns. And the businessperson projecting future needs for harvest, delivery and storage of crops. All of these people are Earth Explorers -- they are all connected by their curiosity about Earth system processes. This series will introduce you to NASA Earth Explorers, young and old, with a variety of backgrounds and interests.
Jennifer Evans works with students to create a clay model of the solar system from NASA Solar System Math. Image Credit: Nellie FranciscoJennifer Evans teaches at Mesa and Nizhoni elementary schools in Shiprock, N.M. Since most of her students are from the Navajo Nation, Evans has organized the curriculum around issues that are culturally important to the Navajo. This includes the science curriculum. Many of Evans' students, who have been identified as gifted, had limited experience with science before arriving in her classroom. Now, they have become Earth and space explorers.
Jennifer Evans and her students visit the San Juan River to study the local environment. Image Credit: Jennifer EvansWhen not focusing on the local environment and Earth, Evans' students are studying space. They use NASA astrobiology materials to study the past and future beyond our planet. "We are looking at astrobiology to learn about what constitutes life but also considering what our future might be like," Evans says. Students ponder questions like "How far can humans travel in space?" "Why might humans want to visit other planets?" "How could it help humankind in the future?" and "What can we learn from space travel to make life on Earth better?" Most importantly, they connect space exploration and travel to their immediate environment by asking what they can learn from their expanded frame of reference to help make the Navajo Nation a better place in the future.