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

    Geomorphology & Paleoclimates

    Geomorphology +

    Activity

    Preview

    Shale Hills

  • × Grayscale image of LiDAR data for a small study area in Pennsylvania about 2 miles long by 1 mile wide.  Roads, fields, and wavy ridges are visible.

    Grades 9 - 12

    Geomorphology & Paleoclimates

    Geomorphology • GIS/RemoteSensing

    Activity

    Use imagery to understand and interpret the effect of geologic processes on a landscape and to relate the processes to past climatic conditions. Become familiar with remote sensing data using imagery from Google Earth and HiRISE for Mars as well as LiDAR data.

    Educational Objectives

    • Use landscape imagery to explain and interpret the effect of geologic processes on a landscape and to relate the processes to past climatic conditions.
    • Describe the technology known as Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and some ways that LiDAR data is used to study landscapes and environmental change.
    Visit this resource (pdf)

    See CZO listing


    Audience: K-12

    Observatory: Shale Hills CZO

    Author: Tim White (Penn State), Ashlee Dere (University of Nebraska-Omaha), Sarah Sharkey (Penn State)


    Funding: NSF CZO

  • Grades K - 8

    A tree's water cycle

    Biology/Ecology +

    Activity & Lesson Plan

    Preview

    Sierra

  • × Illustration of tree roots growing downward through layers in the soil.

    Grades K - 8

    A tree's water cycle

    Biology/Ecology • Hydrology • SoilScience/Pedology

    Activity • Lesson Plan

    Take a journey as water molecules moving throughout the tree water cycle.

    Educational Objectives

    By the end of this activity, students will be able to:

    • Describe the main parts of the water cycle in and around a tree.
    • Become familiar with proportions of water in each part of the cycle, depending on seasons and location.
    Visit this resource

    Audience: K-12

    Observatory: Sierra CZO

    Author: Southern Sierra CZO

    Contact:


  • Grades 9 - 12

    Where do trees get their water?

    Biology/Ecology +

    Information

    Preview

    National

  • × Two illustrated cross-section views of a landscape. One with a plant's root system in shallow soil saying, 'Shallow for rain!' The other with a tree's root system reaching deeper soil saying, 'Deep soil water.'

    Grades 9 - 12

    Where do trees get their water?

    Biology/Ecology • Hydrology • SoilScience/Pedology

    Information

    In this blog post, learn how stable isotopes are used to determine a tree's water source.

    Educational Objectives

    Readers will be able to describe the possible sources of water for trees and the method used to determine a tree's water source. 

    Visit this resource

    See CZO listing


    Audience: K-12 • General Public

    Observatory: National CZO

    Author: Justin Richardson (UMass)


    Related Resource:

  • Grades 3 - 8

    Carbon's Adventures Around The Forest

    Geochemistry/Mineralogy

    Activity

    Preview

    Sierra

  • × View of forest and mountains found in the Southern Sierra CZO

    Grades 3 - 8

    Carbon's Adventures Around The Forest

    Geochemistry/Mineralogy

    Activity

    Explore how certain events in a forest can change the timing and routing of carbon.

    Educational Objectives

    By the end of this activity, students will be able to:

    • explain what carbon and carbon dioxide is
    • understand the carbon cycle through a forest ecosystem

     

    Visit this resource (pdf)

    See CZO listing


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

    NGSS Science & Engineering Practices: Asking Questions and Defining Problems • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations • Analyzing and Interpreting Data • Developing and Using Models • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions • Engaging in Argument from Evidence • Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

    NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas: LS1 - From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes • LS2 - Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics • ESS2 - Earth’s Systems • ESS3 - Earth and Human Activity • ETS1 - Engineering Design


    Audience: K-12

    Observatory: Sierra CZO

    Author: Michelle Gilmore (UC Merced)


    Funding: Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory

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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