This year’s annual global celebration of geosciences known as Earth Science Week is set for Oct. 12-18.
A poster promoting activities being held during this year’s event was inserted in U.S. addresses of this September EXPLORER.
Since its inauguration in October 1998, the mission of Earth Science Week has been to promote the understanding and appreciation of earth science, as explained by Katelyn Murtha, outreach associate at the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), which coordinates the event.
“Current professionals are well aware of the disconnect between science and the general public,” said Murtha.
She and others hope Earth Science Week can help bridge that gap, especially among young people, as each year community groups, educators and interested citizens organize educational and celebratory events around the Earth sciences.
“It is imperative that future generations understand the value of our natural resources, as well as be inspired by the wonders of our planet to maintain the integrity of the field,” she said.
Hoping to inspire and spark new interest in the geosciences, Earth Science Week has “something for everyone,” from students just beginning their education to adults considering a career change.
Murtha assures that the event will serve as a reminder of all the opportunities geoscience has to offer.
“Earth’s Connected Systems” is the theme of this year’s Earth Science Week, and will focus on how the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere are all intrinsically linked.
“We also have ‘Focus Days’ to allow each day to be special in its own way,” Murtha added.
♦ International Earthcache Day and No Child Left Inside Day, both of which encourage active participation in the field, allowing students and teachers to leave the traditional classrooms behind.
♦ National Fossil Day, which focuses on fossils both large and small, from marine corals to large dinosaurs and flying reptiles.
♦ Geoscience for Everyone Day, a new initiative to inspire students from underrepresented communities to explore the exciting careers in geosciences.
♦ Geologic Map Day, a group effort involving AGI, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Geological Society of America and others to educate students about geologic maps and how they aid the public in policy, construction and natural resources.
Murtha recalls celebrating Earth Science Week as an undergraduate at Bowling Green State University.
“The geology department had a reading room for the students, and I took it upon myself to keep the spirits of my fellow students high,” she recounted.
She did this by writing “Happy Earth Science Week” in big chalk letters, with her own tagline, “May the quartz be with you,” which actually became a kind of rallying cry to “stay strong” as the semester’s work became more difficult.
Although there are many great aspects of Earth Science Week, Murtha shared that her favorite is usually the contests. They include visual arts (grades K-5th grade), essays (6th-9th grades) and photography (open to all U.S. residents).
Murtha described how hard being a judge was, because submissions are all so spectacular: “The contests are a creative way for participants to express their passion for geology,” she said, “which allows students who are more shy to still be involved.”
There are many ways for adults and geoscience professionals to be active during this important week.
“Celebrating Earth Science Week can be as simple as giving a short presentation to a classroom or scout group, or donating Earth Science Week toolkits to a school,” Murtha said. “For a larger celebration, consider leading a field trip to a local point of geological interest, hosting a geoscience fair at a school, or constructing a rock, mineral or fossil display for a library.”
For more ideas, visit the Earth Science Week website, or email your questions..
Earth Science Week is organized annually by AGI with support from the AAPG Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, NASA, U.S. National Park Service, ExxonMobil, ESRI and others.