Earth Science Week: Be a Citizen Scientist!
You don't need a Ph.D. to be a scientist. You don't even need a sophisticated laboratory. You can be a scientist at any time -- at school or in your own backyard. We are all citizens of the Earth, which means we are all citizen scientists.
Image to right: Celebrate Earth Science Week, Oct. 8-14, 2006. Credit: NASA
This year's Earth Science Week theme -- "Be a Citizen Scientist!" -- encourages students to conduct science by doing the following:
-- Digging up and examining rocks.
-- Recording observations of clouds.
-- Collecting data on water and air quality.
-- Taking field trips to museums and science centers.
-- Participating in other scientific and educational activities.
Earth Science Week is presented annually by the American Geological Institute to help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Earth sciences and to encourage stewardship of the Earth. NASA has contributed the following items to an educational kit designed to help teachers engage students in Earth science before, during and after this special week:
-- S'COOL Cloud Identification Chart
Developed by the NASA Students' Cloud Observations On-Line Project, this laminated chart organizes clouds by altitude and type. The back side includes information about the origin of cloud names, how scientists study clouds, and directions for how to make a cloud using water, a metal tray, ice, a jar and a match. To view the chart, visit the S'COOL Web site.
-- MY NASA DATA Flier
Image above: Participate in a workshop to learn how to use MY NASA DATA. Credit: NASA
Short for "Mentoring and Inquiry Using NASA DATA on Atmospheric and Earth Science Teachers and Amateurs," MY NASA DATA is an effort to develop microsets of Earth science data that are accessible, interesting and useful to the K-12 and citizen scientist communities. A one-page, double-sided flier summarizes the project. The flier provides step-by-step directions for conducting an activity in which students in grades 9-12 use satellite data to correlate cloud cover with sun position. Visit the MY NASA DATA citizen scientists Web site.
-- The Ozone Monitoring Garden Lithograph
What is ozone? Where in the atmosphere is ozone found? How does ozone affect human life? How does NASA study ozone? These are some of the questions answered in a one-page, double-sided lithograph that features NASA's Aura satellite and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's ozone garden, where plants are monitored for signs of leaf damage caused by high ozone levels. Additional information includes tips for how people can help reduce ozone and a list of related Web sites. For more information, visit the Ozone Monitoring Garden Web site.
-- Rock Around the World
Image above: Send your rock to a Mars scientist! Credit: NASA
NASA's Rock Around the World project is the February feature in the Earth Science Week 2006-2007 calendar. Directions are given for a learning activity for grades 4-9 that encourages students to collect rocks and send them to NASA scientists. A picture of each rock, along with the first name of the student who sent it, will be posted on the Internet. Students will also receive a report showing what kind of rock it is, an official certificate and a Mars sticker. More information, go to the Rock Around the World Web site.
For more information, and to order an educator kit, please visit the Earth Science Week Web site
Through projects such as this, NASA continues its tradition of investing in the nation's education. The agency's major education goal is attracting and retaining students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. To compete effectively for the minds, imaginations and career ambitions of America's young people, NASA is focused on engaging and retaining students in education efforts that encourage their pursuit of disciplines critical to NASA's future engineering, scientific and technical missions.
Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies