GEO Facilities Plan

5.0 Facilities and Education27

The GEO-sponsored facilities while having primarily a research-driven mission, also have ambitious education and outreach programs in place and in development. These programs typically reflect the missions of the facilities, yet are designed for broad impact at multiple educational levels: graduate and postdoctoral, undergraduate, pre-college, and public outreach.

The programs provide a continuum of learning vital to fostering geoscientific excellence, and promote public support for the geosciences enterprise. GEO can increase its support of education through traditional programmatic vehicles and expansion of GEO's Awards to Facilitate Geoscience Education Program, NSF 97-174 (continued through FY99 as Geoscience Education, NSF 99-44). Examples of the facilities programs for which expanded support is being considered are:  

  • UCAR supports a large number of educational programs aimed at the full range of education levels, including public outreach. The Program for the Advancement of Geoscience Education (PAGE, located at:, accessed January 22, 1999) supports the shared development and dissemination via the facility network of multidisciplinary curricula integrated with modern communications technologies.
  • IRIS has established an education and outreach program aimed at using the excitement of seismology and related geosciences as a stimulant to improving science education at all levels. Of particular note is the Princeton Earth Physics Project, placing scientifically useful seismometers in pre-college classrooms, linking separate sites to the IRIS data center simultaneously, and developing supporting curricula. In cooperation with the USGS Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, IRIS has developed a museum display on earthquakes featuring real-time display of seismograms from around the world. The exhibit is currently on national tour as part of the Franklin Institute's `Powers of Nature' exhibit.
  • The ODP has established a broad range of educational activities at all levels. The ODP sponsors a fellowship program, as well as the participation of students aboard the JOIDES Resolution. Distinguished lectures are organized each year by the ODP. The ODP also supports various efforts involved in developing public outreach and educational materials.

GEO has supported programs having significant impacts on education in the geosciences. Some examples include:

  • outreach programs that emphasize hands-on learning and participation of students,
  • teacher training programs aimed at involving students in research,
  • partnerships with public schools,
  • undergraduate research fellowship programs, and
  • activities in cooperation with aquariums and museums.

GEO places profound importance on students, at all levels. Gaining direct experience with applications of state-of-the-art instrumentation in the laboratory and in the field is important and GEO should support mechanisms that provide this experience through facilities. One such approach is a program of incremental funding, allowing students to access selected facilities, while, in turn, providing the facilities with enhancement of technician support and full utilization.

Finally, as part of NSF's intention to create a national digital library as a distributed capability, GEO has begun a cooperative program with the Division of Undergraduate Education focused on an Earth systems science curriculum component. GEO will continue developing this collaboration, and pursue similar activities with other Divisions of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR).


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