In the Trenches - October 2020

Celebrating Outstanding Earth Educators

Volume 10, Number 4

In This Issue

Online Supplements

This site provides web links that supplement the print articles as well as news and web resources. Members can follow the "Read more" links below to access full versions of the articles online. To receive the full edition of In the Trenches, join NAGT


Redina Finch Editor-in-Chief, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL.

The fall semester is well underway and classes are... interesting. I'm using Zoom to conduct face-to-face classes so students don't actually have to be face-to-face. I think it's working out pretty well, but the first round of exams is coming up. I'll know for sure then. Fortunately, my students have a great attitude and they are grateful to be back in school. That makes the teaching a whole lot easier! We are devoting the major part of this issue to our amazing award winners: 20 Outstanding Earth Science Teachers who are among the dedicated and hardworking faculty educating today's K-12 students about the world around them — as well as a number of the women and men who have inspired, informed, and/or assisted them and their peers and facilitated their own growth as Earth scientists. If you know any of them, be sure to congratulate them! Read more...

Increasing URM Confidence Through Mentored Applications to Co-Curricular Experiences

AMANDA E. WONG ( is an education research and learning assistant and MICHAEL GUIDRY ( is the undergraduate chair of the Global Environmental Science Program in the Department of Oceanography, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI.

Students from diverse backgrounds can facilitate the growth of the geoscience community by providing different perspectives and innovative approaches to new challenges on our rapidly changing planet (Huntoon and Lane, 2007). Such students continue to be underrepresented in the geosciences, however. This is unfortunate, because underrepresented minority (URM) students highly value their contributions to society and the environment (Sherman-Morris et al. 2016).

Co-curricular research and internship opportunities, like undergraduate research experiences, are enriching opportunities that strengthen the overall education experience for all undergraduate students in STEM (Lopatto, 2007). Research experiences provide students with higher clarity in their interests in research and STEM careers, increased understanding of a research project, and increased confidence in their research skills (Russel et al., 2007). These kinds of experiences are especially important for URM students, who gain and learn more from these opportunities compared to nonminority students (Lopatto, 2007). Read more...

"Here Be Dragons" - and Innovative Ways of Teaching about Antarctic Ice and Scientific Process

DAN DICKERSON ( is a professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Instructional Technology Education at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. PETER SEDWICK ( is a professor in the Department of Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA. SHAWN MOORE ( is the director of the Center for STEM Education at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. AMBER MEEKS ( is a science education graduate student at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. PETROS KATSIOLOUDIS ( is a professor and chair of STEM Education and Professional Studies at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA.

In 2017, the research vessel Nathaniel B. Palmer traveled to Antarctica as part of the Polynyas and Ice Production in the Ross Sea (PIPERS) expedition. The PIPERS expedition, funded by the National Science Foundation, was the first US winter cruise to the Ross Sea in more than twenty years (Ackley et al., 2020). On board the Palmer were Peter Sedwick, Bettina Sohst, and Casey O'Hara, a research team from Old Dominion University. Their goal: to collect seawater and sea ice samples for post-cruise measurements of iron in an effort to understand how iron levels in the Ross Sea are impacted by the vertical mixing and sea ice formation that begins in austral fall and continues over the winter months (roughly April-September in the Southern Hemisphere). This is an important scientific question because the supply of dissolved iron, an essential "micronutrient," is known to limit the amount of primary production by phytoplankton in the Ross Sea during the austral summer growing season (November-March). Read more...


NAGT Awards for 2020:

The Neil Miner Award, given for outstanding contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth sciences, was awarded to Lori Ziolkowski of the University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.

The James Shea Award, given to honor individuals for exceptional writing or editing of Earth science materials of interest to the general public and/or teachers of Earth science, was awarded to A. Hope Jaren of University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

The Robert Christman Award, given in recognition of those who have provided distinguished service to NAGT at the national and/or section level, was awarded to Cathryn Manduca the SERC Director at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota.

The Stout Professional Development Grants were awarded to the following:

Dan Alcorn of Phoenix High School, Lincoln, CA, to fund field trips to expose students to the geologic wonder of the Devil's Postpile and Pinnacle National Monuments.

Ana Garcia-Garcia of the Physical Sciences Division, Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey CA, to fund tidal channel field at Elkhorn Slough Reserve with her students acquire Virtual Reality equipment for her classes.

Matthew Scott of Douglas Freeman High School, Richmond, VA, to fund travel to the commonwealth of Virginia and take samples, photos, and immersive panoramic videos at 23 sites of geologic importance in Virginia to create an interactive and immersive "Real Virginia" map and webpage for student and teacher use with permanent and printable installations in schools across the state to fund field study in Hawaii


Geological Society of America Awards for 2020:

The Biggs Award, GSA's award for excellence in Earth science teaching by undergraduate faculty who have been teaching full-time for 10 years of fewer, was awarded to Sue Ebanks of Savannah State University, Savannah, GA.

Division Awards

NAGT/GER Transformation Award, recognizing outstanding undergraduate research mentoring, was awarded to David McConnell of North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

GEO2YC Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award, given to Sadie Kingsbury of Mt. San Antonio College, Pomona, CA.

Journal of Geoscience Education Awards for 2020:

The JGE Award for Outstanding Paper was awarded to Chris Mead, Sanlyn Buxner, Geoffrey Bruce, Wendy Taylor, Steven Semken & Ariel D. Anbar for their paper "Immersive, Interactive Virtual Field Trips Promote Science Learning," JGE: Vol. 67, No. 2, pp. 131-142, DOI:10.1080/10899995.2019.1565285

The JGE Award for Outstanding Reviewer was awarded to Laura Guertin of Penn State Brandywine Media, PA.


Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Awards for 2020

Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Awards (OEST) are given for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth sciences at the pre-college level." Any teacher or K-12 educator who covers a significant amount of Earth science content with his or her students is eligible. Ten national finalists are selected, one from each NAGT regional section. Some sections also recognize state winners. The OEST Awards program is designed to identify excellence in teaching, recognize and reward excellence in teaching, stimulate higher levels of teaching performance, establish NAGT as a strong support organization for pre-college education, and, via active statewide and sectional programs, build a solid state, regional, and national liaison with administrators of pre-college Earth science education.

Read all about the 2020 award recipients on the 2020 Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award Winners web page

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