In 19 May 2014, the AMS Council approved the Earth System STEM Education Policy Statement in effect until 2018. The AMS recognizes the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in “developing, maintaining, and growing an education “pipeline” for the purpose of creating a world-class 21st-century workforce in the United States and stresses the benefits of integrating Earth system science as a major component of STEM. Creating a STEM education pipeline has been directly linked to the future U.S. national economy and security. To ensure that U.S. students are able to meet these future challenges, improvements in precollege STEM education are needed to 1) foster an interest in and understanding of STEM disciplines and their relationship to Earth system science; 2) encourage students to pursue a career in STEM disciplines including Earth system science; 3) promote a lifelong understanding and appreciation of STEM and its role in advancing social and economic wellbeing; 4) increase STEM literacy to establish an informed public; and 5) expand opportunities to broaden participation and enhance diversity”.
To that end, the American Meteorological Society endorsed the challenge that “every precollege student be provided with the opportunity to learn about the Earth as a system through the incorporation of cutting- edge technologies as a part of STEM education, providing students with meaningful STEM learning experiences”.
The Call for Geospatial/Environmental Intelligence (GIS)
As we face future natural and human generated hazards and disasters, the Geosciences have a critical role in the public awareness, safety, and national security of our nation. This past year, we have experienced volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe flooding, yet it is becoming increasing more difficult to find opportunities in K-12 education for students to engage in relevant related studies. What implications will this have on the 21st Century workforce? Teachers are using satellite and remote sensing technologies to incorporate imagery, data, and real time observations in the classroom. Geographic Information Systems content is being taught as a technical skill, and is used to develop “Geospatial Thinking” in problem solving. Today, pre-college students and teachers are collaborating with the commercial aerospace industry and NASA to build “CubeSats”, ready for spaceflight, creating authentic science experiences. Students are engaged in observing the Earth and visualizing their future. Our community has an opportunity to inform policy makers in the development of emerging national STEM Education initiatives. The interdisciplinary nature of our discipline lends itself to providing the required leadership. Therefore, it is imperative that any plan for “Creating a National Strategy for Environmental Intelligence” highlight education as a fundamental component.
The Challenge from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
On 7 January 2011, the author addressed PCAST during the Public Comment portion of their meeting. A remarkable challenge was given by PCAST Co-Chair Dr. Eric Lander which is public record via video on the PCAST website. This challenge will be presented to the audience.
Incorporating the Space to Earth: Earth to Space (SEES) Educational Model
Students are able together satellite, remote sensing data, and computer visualizations through the internet and other direct read-out devices. Using a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) approach to layering data related by the latitude and longitude, creating a vertical profile to complete investigations and develop environmental intelligence looking from space down, and from the ground up.
Doing Earth SySTEM:
Using the GLOBE Program Scientific Protocols (ground) and through the GLOBE Satellite Partnerships (space) students engage inauthentic science providing valuable ground validation for earth observing satellite missions. Currently the following missions* have student protocols. • SMAP • GPM • CloudSat • CALIPSO • GOES-R * (launch scheduled for March 2016)
Establishing the Digital Record through the Gathering of Metadata:
GLOBE Global Weather Watchers is an international collaboration with GLOBE schools, teachers and students. This project uses GLOBE atmospheric protocols, satellite and remote sensing data, and personal records of local/regional experiences with extreme weather events. The predication of the climate community is that there will more frequent, and more intense weather patterns that citizens will experience in the future. A major issue is climate education has been communication. Therefore, teachers and students will begin documenting/archiving extreme events as they are personally experienced. GLOBE's support of Citizen Science has been enhanced through the creation of the “GLOBE App” making it easy to make and submit observations.
The SEESSat Challenge:
Using satellite data, and through the completion of an engineering challenge, students will construct CubeSat models, acquire data, communicate data, and complete analysis of that data.
Reaching Underrepresented Groups: The GeoSTEM Alliance:
Finally, the creation of the GeoSTEM Alliance is providing opportunities through unconventional education strategies. These include after school programs, and informal science centers.