2009 Annual Science Report

Pennsylvania State University Reporting  |  JUL 2008 – AUG 2009

EPO Activity: Earth's History Part I and II: Interaction Between Life and the Environment, Science Workshop for Educators

Project Progress

Educators developed an appreciation for the rate of climate change and biodiversity loss today through a study of the coevolution of Earth and life through geologic time in the 5 day, 2-credit graduate course. They investigated the current scientific understanding of Earth history through interactions with leading experts in geochemistry, geology, and paleobiology. Participants learned how Earth scientists determine the ages of rocks using state-of-the-art methods in geochronology and gain hands-on experience applying these methods in a local geologic setting. Astrobiology themes were woven throughout this workshop.

Given this foundational perspective of Earth science through deep time, teachers worked with the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum at Penn State to assist in developing a museum exhibit based upon the research being conducted by Dr. Mark Patzkowsky and others. During the school year, with support from PSU faculty and graduate students, teachers implemented the workshop content into the classroom.

A second follow-up Earth’s History workshop (Part II) occurred in the summer of 2009. Returning teachers completed the museum exhibit, shared their implementation strategies and products from the 2008-2009 school year, and learned additional astrobiology content information from our NASA Astrobiology Institute science team.

In the summer of 2009 we also offered the Part I course with the original astrobiology content lectures, some new material, and hands-on activities from the “Life on Earth… and Elsewhere?” educational materials.