Earth System STEM: Satellites, Remote Sensing, and Image Interpretation for K12 Educators and Students

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Monday, 5 January 2015
Victoria L. Gorman, Medford Memorial Middle School, Medford, NJ

On 19 May 2014, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) adopted a policy statement on EARTH SYSTEM Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education, and recognized its importance “in developing, maintaining, and growing an education “pipeline” for the purpose of creating a world-class 21st-century workforce in the United States.” The benefits of integrating EARTH SYSTEM STEM with current curricula cannot be ignored. However, K12 educators and administrators often overlook these benefits. State Boards of Education continue to labor over how best to incorporate STEM with current state standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). While doing so, they often look past an obvious and readily available solution.

Students and teachers need experience with problem based learning on a larger scale than just in the classroom. Satellite technology, remote sensing, and image processing will aid in understanding Planet Earth as a “System of Systems.” The Earth as a System and the impact of humans on that system should become a larger and larger focus of K12 education. Satellites, with real world missions and real time data, are the future of EARTH SYSTEM STEM.

NASA has taken on a leadership role in the educational community with the use of satellite technology and related fields. One such example is the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. Through a cadre of GPM Master Teachers, NASA provides students and educators with resources to learn about Earth's water cycle, weather and climate, and the technology and societal applications of studying them. The GPM mission is also linked with the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) program and the CoCoRaHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow) network. Another example is the NASA GOES-R mission and associated Education Teams. Scheduled to launch in January 2016, GOES-R will create numerous opportunities for students and educators to understand weather, climate, and climate change with data at a higher resolution and near-real time.

As further stated, in the above referenced AMS EARTH SYSTEM STEM Education policy statement, “For decades, AMS has provided leadership in the design, development, and use of interdisciplinary approaches and cutting-edge technologies to examine and explore environmental issues of societal relevance. Based on this experience, AMS highly recommends and encourages the use of datasets, computer models and visualizations, remote-sensing technologies, and field experiences.” This poster session for pre-college educators aligns with AMS insight and wisdom.