EOS Volcanology Logo Education Outreach Report

Kid's Field Trip (197K-size image and caption)

One of the activities of the Volcanology Team is to lead the EOS Project's advance planning for education and outreach to the community. The EOS Science Executive Council (SEC) has formed a Panel to develop a strategy for this effort. Pete Mouginis-Mark is the Panel Chair, and he is assisted by Jonathan Gradie (also from our EOS IDS Volcanology Team). Together, they have written this interim report to the SEC. If you have ideas and/or comments, please feel free to contact either one of them.

Interim Report: Development of an Educational and Outreach Panel for the EOS Science Executive Council

Peter Mouginis-Mark and Jonathan Gradie

University of Hawaii

July 14, 1994

I. Importance of Education to EOS

The Earth Observing System (EOS), as part of the Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE), will be providing a wealth of information about our planet in both snapshot and synoptic form. This information and the knowledge gained about the local, regional and global environmental issues confronting our planet, must be shared with the widest spread of population if solutions to pending problems are to be implemented. In other words, an informed populace will make the job of monitoring global resources and environments much easier, more timely, and more effective.

The EOS Project bears a responsibility for educating students and the lay population, as well as fellow scientists, for a number of reasons besides simply furthering our basic scientific knowledge. The most important of these reasons are: (1) the people who provide the financial support for the EOS science system will continue to provide enthusiastic support if they are aware of, and understand, the goals and rationale for the whole EOS project as well as the individual parts; and (2) the common knowledge gained about global issues can be transformed into useful and timely public policy and individual action only when a significant portion of the population understands the importance and impact on their daily lives.

The challenge for NASA and the Science Executive Council (SEC) is to find the most effective means for developing an Education and Outreach Panel within the resources (both financial and manpower) available. The objective of this Panel should be to address the general issue of how the EOS project should communicate EOS science activities and results to the general population. A key objective of this activity should be to educate specific target communities about the goals, activities and results of individual EOS experiments as well as for the EOS project as a whole. An element of this objective should be the demonstration that monitoring of time series trends from long duration synoptic observations is a requirement if we are to gain a perspective of global change phenomena.

II. Context with the SEC and EOS Project

In developing a plan for the Education and Outreach Panel, we have identified a certain level of conflict between the perceived goals and the implementation of the effort. For instance, it may be counter productive to include many members of the Payload Panel, or IDS team members, on the Education Panel because this effort requires a different range of expertise and interests compared to the ones that originally led to our selection for EOS. Educational outreach has to consider a different set of issues and objectives when compared to the hardware and research-quality science that characterizes the other Panels. There are no hard-cut decisions that the Educational Panel can make that compare to the identification of the optimum time for a specific platform's equatorial crossing, or the measurement strategy to be used for optimum analysis of atmospheric chemistry. Because the "target audience" might include K-12 schools, 4-year colleges, and applications-oriented state and Federal offices, we have therefore spent most of the time attempting to contact and interact with science educators (many of whom have no involvement with the EOS Project).

Rock Class (204K-size image and caption)

At some stage, the SEC and the Payload Panel will have to address the question of whether this Panel (or whatever it evolves into) is solely comprised of EOS-funded investigators or includes additional science educators who simply have a strong commitment to MTPE activities. The former approach may result in plans that have little chance of success if implemented in the "real world" of the classroom. If the later path is taken, then to a certain extent the EOS Project is back at square one, because most of the activities may develop independently from the Payload Panel. Our recommendation is to follow the second route, and get science educators from outside EOS involved so that we broaden our community base rather than start another introspective effort. We'll deal with Panel communications with the EOS Project at a future date.

Professional Meetings (232K-size image and caption)

III. Current Programs

A number of educational programs exist which provide a useful context for defining the role and scope of the any EOS science education and communication effort. These other programs, which exist at various stages of development, include NASA's Mission to Planet Earth Education Office, the Space Grant College Consortia, the JASON Project, and the proposed GLOBE project. All of these may prove to be useful vehicles for meeting various aspects of the educational objectives of the EOS program set forth by the Education and Outreach Panel.

IV. Where Do We Go From Here?

The SEC Education and Outreach Panel currently does not have a membership! To try to define a set of objectives, we have talked to many people involved in NASA MTPE Educational Programs, the NASA Space Grant College consortia, and the evolving GLOBE program. The collective expertise and interests of these groups would seem to be far too important to ignore, and the EOS Project could benefit from the available resources and manpower if we identify key collaborative efforts. Alas, there are very few members of the Payload Panel (Pete Mouginis-Mark, Byron Tapley, and Berrien Moore) who participate in these other activities.

We recommend that the next steps for the EOS Education and Outreach Panel should include:

In addition to the three main steps described above, some specific related issues could also be considered:

Postscript added September 15th, 1994.

Jonathan Gradie attended the Western Regional Conference of the Space Grant Colleges, which was held at Fairbanks, Alaska, September 8th/9th. Many ideas for EOS education were discussed at this workshop, and some very productive ideas were raised by Mike Wiskerchen (California SG) who talked about KidSat - an effort initiated by JPL to help K - 12 students understand remote sensing, and Terry Armstrom (Univ. Idaho) who stressed the need to make our efforts adhere to the National Standards in education that are now being used.

A key aspect of trying to get the Space Grant Consortia interested in EOS education is that the Consortia have to see that they have a stake in the EOS program. The only way to get the information across is to have a coherent and organized curriculum that is developed by educators.

Postscript added September 25th, 1994.

We have also had other comments outside of the Western Regional Conference. One of the most interesting is that most of our planning has focused on schools, universities and the general public. Lacking is any coherent plan for educating businesses and State legislators. These are two very important groups who could have a long-term interest in a vigorous EOS Program provided it is shown to benefit the local community as well as the Nation. At some stage, whatever evolves from the EOS Education Panel should included outreach to these two groups.

The final stage of this scoping of the EOS Education Plan takes place at the October 19th - 21st Investigators' Working Group meeting in Baltimore. Formal ideas and recommendations on how to move forward with the implementation will be presented to the SEC at that time.

Outreach to National Park Service and US Geological Survey (389K-size images and captions)

People interested in the education side of the EOS Project are encouraged to contact Pete Mouginis-Mark (pmm#kahana.pgd.hawaii.edu) or Jonathan Gradie (JGradie#Terrasys.com) (change # to @ to break SPAMblock).

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