Education Outreach Program

Current Research Feature Stories

We educate people about Earth and environmental science issues that are relevant to our everyday lives, through outreach to the public and to the K-12 education community.

University of Colorado at Boulder

Education and Outreach Projects: Teacher Education

CIRES Outreach projects focus on professional development for teachers and scientists, partnerships with school districts, opportunities for students at all levels and avenues for teachers and students to be involved in current research.

Hallmarks of our Projects

  • driven by the needs of the teacher, district or student who is being served;
  • uses inquiry-based pedagogy and the processes of science.
  • involves research scientists and current research
  • often targets under-represented and educationally disadvantaged populations
  • based upon National, state and local science education standards
  • contributes to our understanding of best practices in geoscience education and outreach.

For more information about our projects, please contact us.

Current Projects

Water in the West Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)
Why is water at the heart of so much conflict in the American West? How have major cities and extensive agricultural systems been able to thrive despite most of the region being either a desert or semi-desert environment? How will a warming climate affect the availability and use of water in a region populated by tens of millions of people? This course combines an overview of the science behind water and climate in the Western United States with a survey of the major legal, political, and cultural issues focused on this precious resource. Read More >>

Tribe's Eye - Native American Students Photograph Environmental Change
Tribal college students from the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation learn about climate and the local environment through photography. Participating student groups communicate their perspective on how climatic and environmental changes on their reservation affect their lives. Each group is mentored by a science graduate student and a photography professional. Groups produce a set of six compositions (photographs) which will be shared with the public in a gallery event in March 2015 at the University of Colorado Boulder campus. Read More >>

Know your AQ: Discover Air Quality
During the summer of 2014, scientists from NASA, NCAR, NOAA, Colorado state agencies, and universities, including CU Boulder, will conduct joint research in Colorado on ground level ozone and summertime air quality as part of NASA'S DISCOVER-AQ and NCAR's FRAPPÉ field campaign. CIRES is assisting with coordination of the Education and Public Outreach opportunities for the campaign, which include an educator professional development workshop in August. Click the link to learn more about the air quality campaign and supporting educational resources. Read More >>

Research Experience for Community College Students (RECCS)
Two environmental research institutes at CU Boulder offer up to six paid summer research opportunities for Colorado Community College students. These research opportunities offer a unique opportunity to conduct research, both field and lab based, working in a team with scientists, learning basic research, writing and communication skills and presenting your work at a science conference. Read More >>

CLEAN- The Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network is a new Pathway of the National Science Digital Library, providing a collection of reviewed and annotated online resources, along with teaching tips that review the importance of specific climate and energy concepts and how to address misconceptions and common confusion about these complex topics.

CLEAN is a collaborative project with several national partners including TERC in Cambridge, MA, and SERC at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. Visit CLEAN on Facebook.

Upward and Outward: Scientific Inquiry Tibetan Plateau

We have produced an excellent educational video, along with lessons, illustrating the work of prestigious Crafoord Laureate Peter Molnar and his colleagues' work in Tibet and how scientists do their science.

Educators can request a copy of the film.

ICEE: inspiring climate education excellence

ICEE: The Inspiring Climate Education Excellence: Teacher Professional Development for Effective Instruction in Climate Science Literacy. The ICEE project provides a face to face workshop, an online course and self-directed learning modules to help teachers learn to be Climate Literate. ICEE addresses important climate science content and the pedagogical skills necessary for effective instruction.

Arctic Climate Connections Lesson Suite:

Focusing on Arctic weather data, the modules feature hands-on learning, experiments, field work and data explorations. Teachers will receive classroom materials, a workshop stipend and an opportunity to meet and learn from CIRES and NOAA scientists Dr. Andrey Grachev and Dr. Ola Persson.

Lens on Climate Change: We propose to engage secondary students in learning about climate change through a video-contest. Student groups will select an environmental or climate change topic that affects their community. Teams will then be guided through their research, production, and editing of their videos by project staff and mentors. The participating teams' videos will be screened at the CIRES annual meeting in spring 2014.

CIRES Education Outreach Blog
CIRES research answers questions of importance to society, such as those associated with climate change, hazards, air quality, energy development and water resources. CIRES Education and Outreach helps scientists work directly with groups who use our science, such as educators and communities. This blog chronicles developments in geoscience education, new resources and opportunities, and scientists’ work in communities. Visit the CIRES Education Outreach blog.

MESA Water Spotters
Water Spotters is a network of students who observe rain, snow, and weather along Colorado's northern Front Range. The Water Spotters program has middle school and elementary lessons developed by teachers and scientists. The modules include original lessons and lessons that expand on basic lessons about the water cycle to teach about water and water isotopes.

EVE logo

EVE: The Solar Dynamics Observatory Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (SDO EVE) project. Teacher professional development, solar weather kits for classroom or after school use, and public events in conjunction with a NASA satellite mission to study the sun.

Connecting the Global Oceans to Inland Audiences
A teacher professional development program that delivers a new ocean and climate science topic each year. Available face to face or through videoconferencing.

Geomagnetism in the MESA Classroom:  An Essential Science for Modern Society

Geomagnetism in the MESA Classroom is a four-part after-school module sponsored by NASA that allows students to explore geomagnetism. Students will use compasses, perform navigation exercises, complete a caching activity, and attend a field trip to NOAA's David Skaggs Research Center in Boulder.


CIRES Education Outreach GLOBE Partner Program

As a GLOBE Partner, CIRES Education Outreach provides teacher training workshops and supports teachers implementing the GLOBE program. Teachers and students learn how to take scientific observations, engage in scientific investigations by conducting local research, and understand world-wide impacts by analyzing international GLOBE data.

Project Extremes

EXTREMES: EXploration, Teaching and Research for Excellence in Middle and Elementary Science
Placing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) graduate students into Boulder's more socioeconomically diverse schools, this program supports both the enrichment of science learning opportunities for GK-12 students and the professional development of young scientists.

Polar Visions Polar Visions Video (in 7 segments)
This educational film by Dr. Ryan Vachon is about the causes and effects of climate change in the polar regions.

Past Projects »