Leading Educators and Scientists Call for Revolution in Earth and Space Science Education

May 16, 2002

CAMBRIDGE, MA, May 16, 2002 – Sixty-five foremost educators and scientists today issued a report calling for a "revolution" in Earth science education in the nation’s K-12 schools. The report, "Blueprint for Change: Report from the National Conference on the Revolution in Earth and Space Science Education," strongly recommends that every student be educated in Earth and space science and that schools elevate the field to the same pedagogical status in classrooms as biology, chemistry and physics. It adds that the science is increasingly used to address vital quality-of-life issues ranging from weather forecasts, crop production and urban planning to the procurement and management of energy, water and other essential resources. As a result, schools must produce greater numbers of Earth and space scientists to drive the economy and conduct scientific research. The report also argues for the importance of Earth science-literacy to informed social and economic policymaking.

"Blueprint for Change" is the product of the National Conference on the Revolution in Earth and Space Science Education, held June 21-24, 2001 in Snowmass, CO. The conference convened leading educators, curriculum developers and scientists from universities, colleges, and K-12 schools. Also represented were scientific organizations like the American Geological Institute and the American Institute of Physics; educational publishers; and government agencies like NASA and the United States Geological Survey. Funded by the National Science Foundation, The American Geological Institute Foundation and McDougal Littell, the conference was organized by the Center for Earth and Space Science Education (CESSE,www.cesse.terc.edu) at TERC in Cambridge, MA, and the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (CSMATE, www.csmate.colostate.edu) at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.

A National Imperative

Integrating physics, biology, chemistry, geology, oceanography, meteorology and all other sciences that study life, Earth and space science is rapidly growing in importance. Earth and space science uses new space-age technologies like data visualizations, analysis tools, and remotely-sensed imaging and satellite photography to greatly advance scientific understanding of Earth and its systems.

"From community development and emergency preparedness to resource planning and energy management, Earth and space science literacy empowers the public to make vital policy decisions that affect, if not define, our lives, our economy and our national well-being," said Dan Barstow, director of CESSE and a principal organizer of the conference. "‘Blueprint for Change’ details how Earth and space science education provides a host of concrete solutions for meeting future challenges."

How to Improve Earth and Space Science Education

Key recommendations from the Conference include:

  • The creation of state-based alliances, comprised of educators, scientists, policy makers, businesses, museums and others, to develop and implement reforms in Earth and space science education.
  • The deployment of Annual Snapshots to assess the quality and extent of Earth science education in each state.
  • Stronger emphases on inquiry-based learning in Earth and space science education, the use of visualization technologies, and student understanding of Earth as interconnected systems.

For a free copy of the "Blueprint for Change" report, send an e-mail to TERC Communications or download the report from the web site:www.EarthScienceEdRevolution.org.