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September 17, 2014

21st Century Interdisciplinary Theme

Environmental Literacy

According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, schools must not only focus on mastery of core subjects, but also promote understanding of academic content at much higher levels by weaving 21st century interdisciplinary themes into those subjects. One of these themes is environmental literacy, which includes knowledge and understanding of the environment and the circumstances and conditions affecting it. It also involves investigating and analyzing environmental issues and making accurate conclusions about effective solutions. And it encourages individual and collective action toward addressing environmental challenges.

Here are some ideas for developing your students’ environmental literacy.

Rock, Water, Air … Life

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is sponsoring three national contests for students to celebrate Earth Science Week 2014 (October 12 to 18).

Photography Contest

The Photography contest theme for this year is Connections in My Community. Residents of the United States, of any age, may enter the Photography contest. Entries must be composed of original, authentic, unpublished material, not previously submitted to any other contest. Published material includes that which has been posted on the World Wide Web. This includes, but is not limited to, Facebook or any other social network website where photos have been posted and shared. The contest is limited to one submission per entrant, along with a one- to two-sentence caption in English explaining the entry. A panel of geoscientists will judge the photographs on creativity and relevance to, and incorporation of, the theme. The winner will receive $300 along with a copy of AGI’s The Geoscience Handbook. In addition, the winner’s and finalists’ names and entries will be posted to the Earth Science Week website. All eligible submissions must be received by 5 p.m. (EST), on October 17, 2014.

Visual Arts Contest

This year’s Visual Arts contest theme is Earth’s Connected Systems and Me. The contest is open to interested students at K–5 who are residents of the United States. A valid submission will contain a two-dimensional (flat) visual arts project that addresses the theme. Each visual arts project must be an authentic, original work with a one- to two-sentence description, printed on the back of the project in English, of what the image demonstrates. A panel of geoscientists will judge the projects on creativity and relevance to, and incorporation of, the theme. All submissions must be postmarked no later than October 17, 2014. The winner of the selected entry will receive $300 and a copy of AGI’s The Geoscience Handbook. The winner’s and finalists’ names and entries will be posted to the Earth Science Week website.

Essay Contest

The 2014 Essay contest theme is Earth System Science in Today’s World. The contest is open to interested students in grades 6–9 who are residents of the United States. Each submission should be a typed essay in English that focuses on the theme. Essays must be original, authentic, unpublished works of no more than 300 words; longer essays will be rejected unread. The essays should be pasted into the body of an email and submitted electronically; essays attached as separate files will not be accepted. All submissions must be received electronically by 5 p.m. (EST), on October 17, 2014. The essays will be judged by a panel of geoscientists on grammar, content, presentation, creativity and, most important, relevance to, and incorporation of, the theme. The winner will receive $300 and a copy of AGI’s The Geoscience Handbook. The winner’s and finalists’ names and entries will be posted on the Earth Science Week website.

What Will Survive?

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) offers a wealth of resources to help educators develop their students’ understanding of the importance of preserving the environment.

The SEED Earth Science Week Online Toolkit, a partnership of Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development (SEED) and the American Geosciences Institute, provides Earth science education resources in both Spanish and English.

AGI also offers suggestions for Earth science-related activities. Most of the activities are categorized based on the Next Generation Science Standards and the earlier National Science Education Standards. The activities are marked with an appropriate grade level.

In addition, an Earth Science Week 2014–2015 Activity Calendar extends the celebration from one week to the whole school year. The wall calendar features a classroom activity for each month. It also provides information about “Earth’s Connected Systems” activities, career opportunities, geoscience happenings, important dates in history, event participation tips and links to additional resources on the web.

Big Ideas: Videos bring to life the “big ideas” of Earth science—the nine core concepts that students should know. Accompanying the videos are nine Big Ideas: Activities to help students build understanding of each core concept.

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