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 9 - 12

    What is the Boulder Creek CZO? - A video series

    All Disciplines

    Video & Tour

    Preview

    Boulder

  • × Bob Anderson kneels on a barren rocky surface while studying river terraces in the Boulder Creek watershed.

    Grades 9 - 12

    What is the Boulder Creek CZO? - A video series

    All Disciplines

    Video • Tour

    Watch three sets of videos about the Boulder Creek CZO, spanning from the Continental Divide (4120 m) down to the western edge of the Plains (1480 m). CZO researchers describe their fieldwork and data collection, supporting CZO science in the Rocky Mountains.

    Educational Objectives

    This video series includes several videos addressing a range of objectives. This includes, but is not limited to:

    • Briefly describe the Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory.
    • Describe aspects of instrumentation and how data is collected at the Boulder Creek CZO.

    Note that the page has three embedded videos but includes a link to the Boulder Creek's YouTube page with many more.

    Visit this resource

    See CZO listing


    Audience: K-12 • General Public

    Observatory: Boulder CZO

    Author: Marshall Frech (Vantage Point Media), Suzanne Anderson (BcCZO PI) and staff from the Boulder Creek CZO


    Funding: NSF CZO

  • Grades 9 - 12

    Humans and Soil Change

    SoilScience/Pedology +

    Computer Activity  & Activity

    Preview

    Cross-CZO

  • × Calhoun gullies

    Grades 9 - 12

    Humans and Soil Change

    SoilScience/Pedology • Geomorphology

    Computer Activity  • Activity

    This activity familiarizes students with the environmental and human factors that increase soil erosion, using the southern Piedmont as a case study.

    Educational Objectives

    The goals are to:
    (1) develop skills and knowledge that relate soil erosion to land cover, slope, and land management and
    (2) draw attention to the role of Critical Zone (CZ) science in understanding social and environmental processes that shape managed landscapes.

    Visit this resource (pdf)

    See CZO listing


    Audience: K-12

    Observatory: National CZO • Calhoun CZO

    Author: Katherine O'Neill (Roanoke College), Daniel Richter (Duke University) and Sarah Sharkey (Penn State)


    Funding: National Office of the Critical Zone Observatory Program

  • 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 6 - 14

    Where Does Gasoline Go?

    Climatology/Meteorology +

    Information & Demo +

    Preview

    National

  • × About 5.5 pounds of the six pound weight of a gallon of gasoline is carbon. This graphic shows a gallon of gasoline beside 5.5 pounds of pure carbon in the form of graphite.

    Grades 6 - 14

    Where Does Gasoline Go?

    Climatology/Meteorology • Biology/Ecology • Outreach/EducationResearch • SocialScience

    Information • Demo • Video

    In the U.S., we burn over a gallon of gasoline per person, per day. What becomes of all that? What does it have to do with the Critical Zone? This blog post investigates these questions with powerful but simple visuals that can be easily translated to classroom use.

    Educational Objectives

    1. Explain why burning a six pound gallon of gasoline produces 19 pounds of carbon dioxide.
    2. Communicate the scale of carbon dioxide emissions by describing the carbon cycle through the story of gasoline.
    Visit this resource

    See CZO listing


    Audience: K-12 • General Public • Higher Education

    Observatory: National CZO

    Author: Don Haas


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 2020
(1 MB pdf)
Humans and Soil Change

AGI 2019
(1 MB pdf)
Make Your Own Landslide!

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

AGI 2016
(441 KB pdf)
The Past, Present & Future of the Valles Caldera

AGI 2015
(1 MB pdf)
The Influence of Dry Deserts on Tropical Rain Forests

AGI 2015 - supplement
(2 MB pdf)
Supplement - The Influence of Dry Deserts on Tropical Rain Forests. African_Dust_Supplementary

AGI 2015 - excel dataset
(534 KB xlsx)
Excel dataset - The Influence of Dry Deserts on Tropical Rain Forests. Rain_chemistry_data_AGI

AGI 2014
(1 MB pdf)
Water resources management simulation

ESW calendar 2014
(651 KB pdf)
Paleoclimate influence on landscape evolution

AGI 2013
(4 MB pdf)
LiDAR exercise for high school classrooms

RET 2014-1
(1 MB docx)
Ground penetrating radar - monitoring soil moisture

RET 2014-2
(1 MB docx)
Carbon storage measurements in forests



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