Key Issues from the Earth Systems Science Education Summit

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The American Geological Institute (AGI) hosted the First Earth System Science (ESS) Education Summit in Houston, Texas, at BP Exploration’s new Helios Plaza meeting facility on February 8-11, 2010. The Summit was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, as well as by funding from AGI, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and the Geological Society of America. Forty-two representatives of AGI member societies and key partners met to discuss and address key issues facing the K-12 geoscience education community.

Key issues included:

  • Perception of high school ESS as a non-rigorous, non-laboratory course;
  • Status of the preparation and continuing education of ESS teachers;
  • Inclusion of ESS alongside other sciences in the new national science education standards;
  • Lack of an ESS advanced placement course;
  • Challenges to ESS in schools by the creationist and Intelligent Design movements; and
  • Role of the International Earth Science Olympiad in raising the profile of ESS.

Summit participants aimed to establish a formal consensus about key challenges, identify initiatives and individuals to address challenges, form teams to work on specific projects, identify possible funding sources for projects, and plan for U.S. participation in the International Earth Science Olympiad. In addition to affirming the priority issues listed above, the meeting resulted in five chaired Working Groups, as well as lists of Big Ideas and Action Items.