National Association of Geoscience Teachers

Contact Person: Cathy Manduca, Executive Director (

Organization Mission

The National Association of Geoscience Teachers works to foster improvement in the teaching of the Earth sciences at all levels of formal and informal instruction, to emphasize the cultural significance of the Earth sciences, and to disseminate knowledge in this field to the general public.

Key Initiatives

Since NAGT was founded in 1938 the Association has been working towards three main goals: to improve geoscience education, to emphasize the relevance and cultural significance of the earth sciences, and to disseminate knowledge to educators and the general public. In pursuit of these goals, NAGT sponsors a number of programs, workshops, publications, awards, events, and sessions at professional meetings. In addition, the organization seeks to mobilize its membership in advocacy and support of teaching and learning about the Earth.

Focus Areas

Teacher professional development
Pre-service teacher education

Teaching resource collections - classroom activities, pedagogy, professional development strategies
Advocacy - position statements and community discussions

Resources for Implementing NGSS

Instruction and/or Assessment

K12 Educator's Portal - On this site, there are hundreds of classroom activities organized by grade level and topic as well as guidance on effective teaching. Many of these resources were expressly developed with a K-12 audience in mind. Others can be adapted to K-12 classrooms even though they were originally developed with a college audience in mind. This site also includes two special collections developed by NAGT in conjunction with Earth Science Week - Teaching with Maps and Teaching Systems.

Pedagogy in Action - The purpose of Pedagogy in Action is encourage educators to reflect critically on their own teaching practices and to support them in exploring new pedagogies. This project has developed a library of pedagogic methods and a collection of activities which exemplify each method across many disciplines.

Earth Exploration Toolbook (EET) - Developed by teams of scientists and educators, the Earth Exploration Toolbook is a collection of online Earth system science activities. Each activity, or chapter, introduces one or more scientific data sets and analysis tools that enables users to explore some aspect of the Earth system. EET chapters are written to the teacher, generally at the secondary and college level.

Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) - The CLEAN Collection is a hand-picked and rigorously reviewed collection of educational resources aligned with the Climate Literacy and Energy Literacy frameworks. In addition, the entire collection is being retagged for alignment with the NGSS.

On the Cutting Edge - The On the Cutting Edge website has been aggregating teaching materials related to the very successful professional development workshop series for over a decade. Those aimed at undergraduate faculty, there are many materials and topics of value to K12 educators. For example, the section on enhancing teaching has strong resources on the value of the Affective Domain, Service Learning, and Assessment of Learning among many others.

Advocacy for Earth and Space Science

NAGT Education and Public Policy
NAGT has developed position statements on specific issues that affect or are affected by geoscience education. These positions were proposed by the membership and approved by the Council. Issues with current position statements include: Teaching Evolution, Teaching Climate Change, and High School Earth Science Instruction

NAGT has two email lists for folks interested in Education and Public Policy.

  • The NAGT Public Policy list alerts members to needs for immediate input on policy issues, and provide news and updates on opportunities to participate in national events.
  • The NAGT Science Literacy list provides updates on activity related to development of national science standards, frameworks and literacies.

NAGT also maintains a Policy Discussion Board where anyone can join the discussion about how NAGT can be involved in Education and public policy matters by reading and posting comments.

Understanding the Nature of Science

Teaching the Process of Science - How do we know what we know? Many resources are available to help educators teach 'what we know'. Few of those resources explicitly address 'how we know' that content. We might feel that the process is implicit in our teaching, or that we don't have time to teach the process when there is so much content to cover. This module from Pedagogy in Action explains why teaching the process can support - rather than replace - teaching the content, and will help integrate the process of science into our teaching.

Teacher Professional Development

Many of the Sections of NAGT host local conferences where K12 teachers can network and learn from each other as well as college and university faculty.

Teacher Education Division (TED) - The Teacher Education Division of NAGT seeks to improve geoscience teaching by improving teacher content and pedagogical knowledge and by encouraging research on best teaching practices. Members from across the organization who have an interest in preparing Earth science teachers can work together nationally.

Professional Development Opportunities - NAGT runs and sponsors many different professional development opportunities for teachers and faculty. Workshops, sessions at professional society meetings, and a wide array of other events are great ways to continue learning about education issues.

Preparing Teachers to Teach Earth Science - This site examines the role of geoscience departments and faculty in preparing preservice teachers and supporting practicing teachers who teach Earth science at all pre-college levels. There are essays about teacher preparation, interviews with K12 Earth science teachers, descriptions of courses and programs designed to prepare earth science teachers, and a set of teaching activities.

Addressing Controversial Topics

K12 Portal: How Students Learn - Find strategies, resources, and examples for engaging students in potentially controversial material such as evolution, climate change, and energy issues.

Affective Domain: Teaching Controversial Topics - In order to teach controversial topics effectively, we must be especially aware of the role of the affective domain and the potential for affective roadblocks. If a contentious topic doesn't sit well emotionally, then students may be unable to learn the science.

Connecting Geoscience with Other Disciplines

InTeGrate: Build Interdisciplinary Connections - Many current societal issues are connected to the Earth, such as environmental degradation, food supply, energy needs, mineral resources, climate change, and more. Incorporating these topics into a course (from any discipline) can increase relevancy and interest among students. This set of pages from InTeGrate provide guidance for this kind of interdisciplinary endeavor.

Information about Geoscience Careers

Two of NAGT's sponsored projects have done great work on showcasing information on geoscience careers.

  • Supporting and Advancing Geoscience Education in Two-year Colleges (SAGE 2YC): Geoscience Careers - This set of pages from SAGE 2YC provides extensive information about the kinds of careers available to those with geoscience knowledge and what kinds of degrees are necessary to do them. There is also information about future trends, career resources available from professional societies, and profiles of people in geoscience careers.
  • InTeGrate: Understand Workforce Needs - In order to prepare your students for the future workforce, you (and they) need to understand what the current workforce looks like. Learn about the needs of and opportunities offered by the future workforce. See more information about employment statistics, information about major employment sectors, and a description of future opportunities that will arise as the current workforce retires.

Funding or Material Support for K12 Education

Outstanding Earth Science Teacher (OEST) Awards - OEST awards are given for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Sciences at the pre-college level." Any teacher or other K-12 educator who covers a significant amount of earth science content with their students is eligible. Recipients of these awards receive classroom improvement funds as well as travel to a GSA meeting in addition to other materials.

Dorothy Stout Professional Development Grants - Dottie Stout was the first female president of NAGT and was active as a strong supporter of Earth science education at all levels. In honor of Dottie's outstanding work and lifelong dedication to Earth science education, NAGT awards grants to faculty and students at two-year colleges and K-12 teachers in support of their professional development.

Other Relevant Resources

The Geoscience Education Research (GER) division and the Two-year College (Geo2YC) division are both active in issues surround implementation of the NGSS. GER members are active in conducting the education research that leads to best practices in the classroom. Geo2YC cares about issues of teaching geoscience at two-year colleges where a large number of pre-service teachers receive their science content training.