DTM Participates in the Smithsonian's Science Education Academies for Teachers Workshop

Friday, August 08, 2014 

Each summer, the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC) in Washington, D.C., organizes a week-long teacher development program. This program, named the Smithsonian Science Education Academies for Teachers (SSEATS), aims to deliver professional development opportunities to teachers around the country in collaboration with other museums, Smithsonian units, partners, and world-class science research facilities, including Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM). 

For the past 5 years, DTM, spearheaded by Staff Scientist Steve Shirey, has hosted a portion of this workshop on campus. While here, participants are given presentations on the research DTM does, engage in an experiment, and tour the various labs on campus. This year, Shirey presented on, “How to Measure and Understand Earth’s History and Ancient Global Change,” to illustrate how science can make precise measurements on the timing of  events in our history, like the birth of our planet or evolution of our solar system.

Following the presentation, Mass Spectrometry Lab Manager Timothy Mock gave a practicum in the lab on laser ablation of the uranium-rich mineral zircon, to show how to calculate their ages. DTM postdoc Marion Garçon and Visiting Investigator Karen Smit also gave presentations on their research at DTM to give different perspectives on science research. 

The goal of this course is to bring teachers of all different grade levels together to experience firsthand today’s cutting edge science. This improves the teachers’ personal understanding of scientific concepts, engages them with scientists working in the field today, and introduces them to the technical innovation scientists use to perform their research. 

By seeing the passion and excitement of our scientists, as well as  scientists from the other institutions they visit during their time in D.C., the SSEATS teachers can show their students that science is more than just dry facts, but a whole lifestyle of mysteries worth exploring.

Written by Robin A. Dienel
8 August 2014