Photo by Gary Wagner, courtesy of AGU

2012 AGU-NESTA GIFT Workshop

NESTA and AGU teamed up to organize the 2012 AGU-NESTA GIFT Workshop, offered on December 3-4, 2012 at the 2012 American Geophysical Union Meeting in San Francisco, California. The six presentation teams for the workshop were selected based on the exceptional quality and relevance of their proposed presentations and activities from among the 29 applicants for the opportunity to present. Resources presented in the workshop are freely available below.

To find out about the next AGU-NESTA GIFT Workshop, visit the AGU Teacher webpage.

1. Drilling Back in Time: Understanding the Past to Predict the Future of Climate Change - presented by Louise Huffman and David Harwood, ANDRILL/University of NE-Lincoln

Classroom Activities

2. Looking for Life on Mars and Europa - presented by Max Coleman, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Kay Ferrari, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and Laura Venner, Buehler Challenger & Science Center


Classroom Activities

3. GeoMapApp Learning Activities - presented by Andrew Goodwillie, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; and Steve Kluge, Resources for Geoscience Education


4. Measuring Plate Movements with GPS to Understand Earthquake Hazard - presented by Shelley Olds, UNAVCO; Beth Pratt-Sitaula, Central Washington University/UNAVCO; and James McCaughey, Earth Observatory of Singapore/Nanyang Technological University


This session explored the essential role that high precision GPS stations play in our understanding of earthquakes and other natural hazards. Participants used GPS time series plots of station locations to determine how fast and what direction the stations are moving, and calculate potential earthquake hazard based on accumulated strain being built up in the rocks and not yet released. Activities appropriate to middle and high school levels.


Classroom Activities

Activity 1
Introduction to Reading GPS Time Series Plots & Exploring Plate Motion and Deformation in California using GPS Data
(Included is an overview of "Surprising Discoveries about Iceland")

Activity 2
Inquiry: Sumatran earthquakes with GPS

Supplementary Resources

5. Blue Marble Matches: Using Earth for Planetary Comparisons - presented by Paige Valderrama Graff and Jaclyn Allen, Jacobs ESCG at NASA Johnson Space Center


The Blue Marble Matches activity (adaptable for grades 4-12) uses astronaut imagery of Earth and remote sensing images of other planetary bodies in our solar system to engage students in planetary science. The activity allows students to learn about geologic processes on Earth and extend that knowledge to other planetary bodies in the solar system. This activity was created as part of NASA's Expedition Earth and Beyond Program, which promotes student investigations in the classroom. The activity may spark an interest for students to conduct an inquiry-based investigation and even request new astronaut imagery from the International Space Station. For more information, go to


Classroom Activities

6. Understanding the Air We Breathe by Connecting to NASA's Airborne Campaign - presented by Jim Crawford, Lin Chambers, Jessica Taylor, and Byron Meadows from NASA Langley Research Center


In this presentation we will discuss importance of understanding air quality and how NASA's DISCOVER-AQ airborne mission will contribute to this research through upcoming field campaigns in California and Texas.  DISCOVER-AQ is a four-year campaign to improve the use of satellites to monitor air quality for public health and environmental benefit.  The mission aims to study atmospheric chemistry by measuring and analyzing the vertical profile of the atmosphere.  We will model several activities that can be used in the classroom to enhance student learning on air quality, and discuss how students can conduct their own air quality investigations through several NASA lessons. We will demonstrate how remote sensing works, from both airplanes and spacecraft through a live LASER demonstration, and discuss the various data parameters collected through airborne campaigns such as DISCOVER-AQ.  Finally, we will present current opportunities for authentic student science inquiry available through the MY NASA DATA Program, featuring activities for grades K-12.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA