K-12 Education

A national-scale CZO education and outreach effort has begun.

The CZOs participate in a variety of organizational forums to develop a focused and effective education and outreach presence.  

Anthony Aufdenkampe, Susan Gill (Stroud Water Research Center, Christina River Basin CZO), Douglas Jerolmack (University of Pennsylvania, Luquillo CZO) and Timothy White (CZO national coordinator) engage U.S. Represenative Chaka Fattah during his visit to the CZO booth at the 2011 STEM conference in Philadelphia.

Educational Resources (examples for K-12)

  • Grades 3 - 8

    Earth Systems Science: Exploring Change in the Critical Zone

    Hydrology +

    Curriculum & Activity

    Preview

    Boulder

  • × View of the alpine ecology research station Niwot Ridge located in the Front Range of Colorado.

    Grades 3 - 8

    Earth Systems Science: Exploring Change in the Critical Zone

    Hydrology • Geology/Chronology • Biology/Ecology • Climatology/Meteorology

    Curriculum • Activity

    Understand how the Boulder Creek CZO's geology, hydrology, ecology, and climate interact to provide water in 3 learning modules: Foundations for Flow; Fire and Water; and Ice, Snow and H20.

    Educational Objectives

    Module 1: Foundations for Flow
    Learners will be able to:

    • Describe and evaluate the impact of various geologic events and processes on the current structure of the Boulder Creek Watershed
    • Differentiate between constructive and destructive geologic forces impacting the Boulder Creek Watershed
    • Describe the role of glacial and stream erosion in shaping the structure and hydrology in the Boulder Creek Watershed
    • Describe major events in Colorado’s climate over time and how they impacted the Boulder Creek Watershed

    Module 2: Fire and Water
    Learners will:

    • Relate changes to map-based images of Colorado over a large geologic time scale to major events in our geologic history
    • Describe relationships between existing geologic features and the processes and forces that created them
    • Will match rock samples to descriptions of the geologic processes/events that formed them

    Module 3: Ice, Snow and H2O
    Learners will:

    • Simulate and describe the impacts of glacial erosion over time using a model
    • Identify characteristic features of glacial erosion in their model landscape
    • Describe the role of glaciers in shaping the Boulder Creek Watershed
    Visit this resource

    See CZO listing


    NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns • Cause and Effect - Mechanism and Explanation • Energy and Matter - Flows, Cycles, and Conservation • Structure and Function

    NGSS Science & Engineering Practices: Asking Questions and Defining Problems • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations • Analyzing and Interpreting Data • Developing and Using Models • Engaging in Argument from Evidence

    NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas: PS3 - Energy • LS2 - Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics • ESS2 - Earth’s Systems • ESS3 - Earth and Human Activity


    Audience: K-12

    Observatory: Boulder CZO

    Author: Eric Carpenter, Stacey Forsyth, Kristi Dahl, Laura Cecil, Melissa Foster, Rachel Gabor (INSTAAR)


    Funding: Earth Systems Science: Exploring Change in the Critical Zone is a collaboration between the Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory Program, the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research, and the University of Colorado Boulder – Science Discovery Program. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0724960.

  • Grades 6 - 12

    SimWater: Simulating water supply, demand, & management

    Hydrology +

    Activity & Lesson Plan

    Preview

    Sierra

  • × Colorful layers of sand and gravel as viewed through the wall of a small glass demonstration tank. Colorful dye highlights the path of water flow.

    Grades 6 - 12

    SimWater: Simulating water supply, demand, & management

    Hydrology • Engineering/MethodDevelopment • Modeling/ComputationalScience • SocialScience

    Activity • Lesson Plan

    Help understand the decisions water managers make, including questions like: Who receives water? And how much agriculture can we sustain? This activity includes 1) precipitation maps, 2) land use areas, 3) sample activity instructions, and 4) Excel template.

    Educational Objectives

    Describe aspects of the decisionmaking process for water managers, including how they answer questions like:

    • Who receives water?
    • And how much agriculture can we sustain?
    Visit this resource

    NGSS Crosscutting Concepts: Scale, Proportion, and Quantity • Systems and System Models • Energy and Matter - Flows, Cycles, and Conservation • Stability and Change

    NGSS Science & Engineering Practices: Analyzing and Interpreting Data • Developing and Using Models • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

    NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas: ESS3 - Earth and Human Activity • ETS2 - Links Among Engineering, Technology, Science, and Society


    Audience: K-12

    Observatory: Sierra CZO

    Author: Ryan Lucas, Michelle Gilmore, Erin Stacy (all at Southern Sierra CZO)


    Contact:


    Funding: NSF CZO

  • Grades 9 - 14

    What is the Critical Zone?

    All Disciplines

    Information & Video

    Preview

    Cross-CZO

  • × Illustration of the Critical Zone, showing a slice of Earth's near surface pulled out of the ground.  Labels are shown for air, biota, soil, water, and rock. Image credit: After Chorover et al, 2007. Catalina-Jemez CZO (artwork by R. Kindlimann).

    Grades 9 - 14

    What is the Critical Zone?

    All Disciplines

    Information • Video

    A short web page that answers questions like: what is the Critical Zone? Why it is so important? Why does it need to be studied? The page includes text, images, and video.

    Educational Objectives

    Be able to discuss where the Critical Zone fits on Earth's surface and its importance to Humans and all life. 

    Visit this resource

    See CZO listing


    Audience: K-12 • General Public • Higher Education

    Observatory: National CZO • Boulder CZO • Calhoun CZO • Catalina-Jemez CZO • Christina CZO • Eel CZO • IML CZO • Luquillo CZO • Reynolds CZO • Shale Hills CZO • Sierra CZO

    Author: CZO National Office

  • Grades 9 - 12

    What is the Eel River Critical Zone Observatory?

    Biology/Ecology +

    Information

    Preview

    Eel

  • × Image from ERCZO cartoon

    Grades 9 - 12

    What is the Eel River Critical Zone Observatory?

    Biology/Ecology • Geomorphology • Outreach/EducationResearch

    Information

    An illustrated introduction to the Eel River Critical Zone Observatory in the Angelo Coast Range Reserve.

    Educational Objectives

    After reading this cartoon, students will be able to:

    • Identify the Eel River Watershed on a map of California
    • Understand why the Critical Zone is of interest to scientists
    • Explain the role the Critical Zone plays in supporting healthy trees and river ecosystems 
    Visit this resource

    See CZO listing


    Audience: K-12 • General Public

    Observatory: Eel CZO

    Author: Justin Richardson (UMass Amherst), Bill Dietrich (UC Berkeley), Alana McGillis (www.alanamcgillis.com)


See more K-12 resources >


Example activities

Outlined below are key examples of educational activities coordinated by the CZO National Office to engage K-12 teachers or administrators overseeing K-12 funding programs.

Many additional K-12 E/O activities are run by the CZO program, mostly led by individual Observatories.  To see examples of those per-CZO efforts,  select an observatory from the “Move laterally” menu above.”

AGI Earth Science Week

CZO researchers cooperated with the American Geosciences Institute's Earth Science Week since 2013, providing "hands on" learning exercises that are sent to more than 16,000 teachers nationwide.The CZO National Office intends for this cooperation to continue on an annual basis. More information is available in a 2014 News story and a 2015 News story (African Dust feeds the Puerto Rico ecosystem).  

AGI hands-on learning exercises:

CZO REU/RET program

Tim White, as national coordinator, and Susan Gill, Stroud Water Research Center education director, developed a successful Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program that places 2 secondary education teachers each at the Christina River Basin and Shale Hills CZOs during the summers of 2014 through 2016.

2016

RET, Lauren Smith, lead a secondary teachers workshop at Penn State University on the use of Virtual Field Experiences in a classroom. Smith led 10 participants in a lecture and series of discussions followed by a guided afternoon tour of the Shale Hills CZO by Tim White and Dave Eissenstat (PSU). The workshop concluded with an aquatic invertebrate exercise using Stroud Water Research Center's Leaf Pack Experiment Kit

2015

A CZO Science Teaching Workshop, organized by two RETs and National Office collaborator Don Duggan-Haas, was held in State College, PA to provide K-12 teachers an introduction to CZ science through the creation and use of Virtual Fieldwork Experiences (VFEs).

RET Sharon Dykhoff developed a hydrology learning unit available through the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) entitled "The Case of the Muddy Water: Using Authentic Data to Investigate Impacts of Hydrofracturing." The objective of this lesson is to introduce the potential impacts of natural gas extraction through data analysis.

2014

Two teachers developed learning exercises and presented the results of their summer experience at the Pennsylvania State Teachers Association meeting in State College, PA on December 8, 2014.

REU/RET hands-on learning exercises:
Ground Penetrating Radar - Monitoring Soil Moisture (1 MB docx) 
Carbon Storage Measurements in Forests (1 MB docx)

Paul Longwell (Hollidaysburg Area School District, PA) and Mark Yeckley (Glendale School District, PA), 2014 summer RETs at the Shale Hills CZO, present the results of their summer experience at the PA State Teachers Association meeting in State College, December 2014.

On-line Critical Zone Course

Tim White developed an on-line open-source course entitled 'Earth Surface Processes in the Critical Zone'. The course is formally offered through The Pennsylvania State University's Masters of Education in Earth Sciences program and aims to educate middle and high school teachers interested in incorporating Critical Zone science into their classroom curriculum.  Course Home Page

GSA Short Course

As national coordinator, Tim White taught a short course entitled "Introduction to Critical Zone Science and Observatories" at the 125th anniversary meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver in October 2013, a course that will be offered again at the GSA meeting in Vancouver, B.C., Canada in October 2014. CZO News Article

Earthscope Talk

The CZO national coordinator traveled to Arizona State University during February 2012 to the Education and Outreach summit organized by Earthscope, presenting a short talk on CZO efforts and engaging colleagues from a variety of NSF-sponsored science initiatives to learn and share.  Earthscope blog

STEM Conference

CZOs were included in the NSF-sponsored national Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) best practices conference at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA on September 16, 2011, displaying large format posters, a stream table, and various on-line educational opportunities associated with the CZOs.  CZO News Article

Paul Longwell (Hollidaysburg Area School District, PA) and Mark Yeckley (Glendale School District, PA), 2014 summer RETs at the Shale Hills CZO, present the results of their summer experience at the PA State Teachers Association meeting in State College, December 2014.

Siobhan Donnelly (Centre Learning Community Charter School, PA) explains the Critical Zone concept. 

Participants sorted and collected data on invertebrates from nearby Shaver's Creek and Garner Run sites. 


Associated Files

AGI 2018
(639 KB pdf)
Notice & Wonder: Foundation for Scientific Inquiry in the Critical Zone

AGI 2017
(264 KB pdf)
Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia (Dead) Zone

AGI2016
(441 KB pdf)
The Past, Present & Future of the Valles Caldera

AGI2015
(1 MB pdf)
The Influence of Dry Deserts on Tropical Rain Forests

AGI2015 - supplement
(2 MB pdf)
Supplement - The Influence of Dry Deserts on Tropical Rain Forests. African_Dust_Supplementary

AGI2015 - excel dataset
(534 KB xlsx)
Excel dataset - The Influence of Dry Deserts on Tropical Rain Forests. Rain_chemistry_data_AGI

AGI2014
(1 MB pdf)
Water resources management simulation

ESWcalendar2014
(651 KB pdf)
Paleoclimate influence on landscape evolution

AGI2013
(4 MB pdf)
LiDAR exercise for high school classrooms

RET2014-1
(1 MB docx)
Ground penetrating radar - monitoring soil moisture

RET2014-2
(1 MB docx)
Carbon storage measurements in forests



Events

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