Happy Earth Science Week! Today marks day two of this annual international event, which the American Geosciences Institute has organized since October 1998. Each year, the event addresses the broader goal of increasing public understanding and appreciation of earth sciences and encouraging stewardship of the Earth, and this year will be no different. Throughout the course of the week, however, the event will narrow its focus to this year’s particular theme: “Discovering Careers in the Earth Sciences.”
Over the years, people in all 50 states and more than five countries have participated in Earth Sciences Week. Events and activities range from educators leading their students through earth science activities to open houses held at major United States Geological Survey field stations. For those with a competitive flare, this year’s Earth Science Week includes a series of contests: a photography contest, a visual arts contest and an essay contest. Also, several days throughout the week are designated to celebrate certain aspects of earth sciences. Wednesday is National Fossil Day, Thursday is Women in the Geosciences Day and Friday is Geologic Map Day. Tomorrow, however, is perhaps the most well-known celebratory day — “No Child Left Inside” Day, which has come to be a popular rallying cry among youth organizations, fitness groups and government agencies in their efforts to promote outdoor activities.
“No Child Left Inside” Day originated just four years ago in order to encourage young people to get outdoors and explore the earth sciences firsthand. Its establishment led to the creation of countless events across the country, but one such event stands out as being extraordinary. In 2008, students from Langston Hughes Middle School in Reston, Virginia had the opportunity to hike to a nearby stream and wooded area, where they were greeted by a series of learning stations and scientists from the American Geosciences Institute. The students observed demonstrations and engaged in discussions on subjects such as water chemistry and biological diversity. They got to sample water, observe plants and animals, and study the interactions of natural systems before talking with journalists from NBC and NPR about the event.
This particular event stands as one of the great achievements of Earth Sciences Week and is one I discuss with envy. I know I would have relished the opportunity to sneak out of the classroom midday and explore the outdoors as a middle school student. And today, as a college junior pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies, this kind of activity still excites me. Really any day can be “No Child Left Inside” Day. So get involved in Earth Sciences Week, check out events near you and help promote understanding and appreciation for earth sciences.