2015 PAESTA Earth Science Week Essay Contest Winners Announced

Earth Science Week

For Earth Science Week 2015, PAESTA held an essay contest that challenged K-12 students in Pennsylvania to write an essay with the following theme: Why Earth Science Matters in Pennsylvania. We are thrilled to announce the three winning essays, all written by students in Sandy Grajewski's classroom at Conrad Weiser High School in Robesonia, PA.

The essays were judged on grammar, content, presentation, creativity, and relevance to and incorporation of the topic. PAESTA wishes to thank our faculty judges for their time in reviewing the essays and providing thoughtful comments back to the students: Jonathan Warnock (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), Lynn Marquez (Millersville University), Steven Goldsmith (Villanova University), and Laura Guertin (Penn State Brandywine).


First Place  --  Madison Seidel

Earth Science is very important to Pennsylvania. Earth Science, the study of Earth and its interaction with other solar bodies, has a great affect on humans and other life forms. If we had never taken a closer look at how our earth works, we may never have been able to analyze our present, reflect on our past, or predict for the future.

Our Earth works like a system, where all parts interact with each other. Anything involving the hydrosphere, (all water on earth,) would affect most, if not all, of the other spheres. For example, if water in an area is polluted, life from the biosphere could have a risk of contamination or potential sicknesses. For another example, if an earthquake in the geosphere occurred, air in the atmosphere would get polluted with ashy smoke. It is very beneficial for scientists and people of the community to study these Earth systems in order to properly analyze this aspect of earth science. Although this is an important aspect for Earth Science all over the world, it deeply affects Pennsylvania, in the respect that lives can be changed by a simple system interaction.

If you think about it, our earth in the past has told us a lot. In turn, the future will also give us important information. Scientists’ study the past to give us a more in-depth look at how our earth has changed from then until now. Scientists also make inferences on how our earth will continue to change. It is a proven fact that our earth will not stay the same as time goes on. We notice changes in just a yearly basis. Imagine the earth 50 years from now! Observing changes in the earth through time is obviously beneficial to every person on the earth, yet it can specifically benefit citizens of the Keystone State. The topography of our state in the past and how it has advanced can be crucial to our future.

Each state can be recognized for a specific natural resource. We continue to utilize resources in our state such as clean and fresh running water, renewable energy, lumber, wind produced from turbines, and even solar energy conducted from the sun. As time went on, more Pennsylvanians took notice on all the resources our state had to offer. We continue to discover earth science related resources, minerals, and energy forms harvested from our state. By taking a look at what resources we have established even 50 years ago to now, we can infer the amount of newly discovered resources we will have in the future.

Earth science affects everyone and everywhere. Each and every day we see an example of earth science. It is simply in our daily lives! There is no limit to the amount of studying, observing, and inferring we can do when it comes to Earth Science in PA. Surely, earth science has influenced California and Colorado and every other state. Although, this doesn’t make it less important to Pennsylvania.


Second Place  --  Kevin Gemmel

There are many interesting topics underneath the main heading of Earth Science, such as the Earth – Moon – Sun System or the 5 spheres, but there are certain features about Pennsylvania that make the state very unique when seeing the state working together in a system and all of the spheres interacting with each other in a system. There are also many job and college opportunities opening up for studying Earth Science throughout Pennsylvania, as well as careers to help research and discover certain topics of Earth Science. Pennsylvania holds many geological features that are very stunning and jaw-dropping that attract tourists into the state, such as underground crystal caverns, winding rivers and majestic waterfalls, lush hills and farmland, and the famous Appalachian Mountains.

The geological features that I listed above are the features that are eye opening, but some honorable mentions are shale hills and cliffs. All of the geological features also interact with the other spheres in Earth Science, as weather patterns and phenomenon could change the appearance of the landscape, animals could potentially alter the landscape as well, runoff could erode the landscape of the features, and humans could also destroy the features as well. Pennsylvania’s geological features are very special to us and we take great care for them and keep them as restored as possible to preserve the beauty and awe of these places.

Our features in the state could be very good for studying; one example is that scientist could try to extract soil and/or rocks from inside the Appalachian Mountains and see how far back the elevated land dates to, and find out when the mountain was formed and add that to the timeline of Earth’s geological history. Scientists could also study the rivers and see if there is any acids or salt in the waters, and if the moving water could cause a great deal of erosion in the future. Another area that scientists could study in is the weather patterns in different areas of Pennsylvania; scientists could observe weather patterns in the atmosphere and see if there are different patterns in different areas of the state, and if that is just a natural cause or if some other phenomenon or even humans are causing this.

Pennsylvania is a very beautiful state, and holds many geological features that people all over the nation come to see every year. These features are very special to the state and make Pennsylvania different from the others, which can mean it is a special place to be further studied and analyzed. And so the features of Pennsylvania will be forever special to the state, making it a very interesting place to be studied under Earth Science.


Third Place  --  Ian Imbody

Earth science is not only important to the entire world, but it is also very important to the state of Pennsylvania. The state has many earth science related features such as a part of the Appalachian Mountains or being bordered by Lake Erie.
The Appalachian Mountains are rich with coal mines which can provide power to the state, or neighboring states. They also provide a unique habitat for the wildlife of the biosphere to live in. Pennsylvania is the leading East Coast supplier of coal, natural gas, nuclear power, and refined petroleum to the industries of the state, and also to the rest of the nation. Pennsylvania is also home to the Marcellus Shale. The Marcellus Shale is an underground deposit of natural gas that stretches from upstate New York through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and finally Western parts of Ohio. The Marcellus Shale is one of the first to harvest for natural gases after the Barnett Shale in Texas.

In the Northwest corner bordering Pennsylvania, lays Lake Erie, one of the five great lakes. The lake provides a large amount of sport to the game fisherman each year. An estimated 1.5 million fish are caught by anglers in the lake each year. The lake also provides good boating and other water recreational activities because of the lake being so big. Pennsylvania is also home to other well-known bodies of water. Two known rivers are the Ohio River and the Delaware River. Starting with the Ohio River, the Port of Pittsburgh covers over 200 miles of waterways and is the 14th biggest port in the whole country. Many Southwestern Pennsylvania companies are very dependent on the Ohio River for the success of their businesses in one way or another. The Delaware River plays an important part to Pennsylvania being that it is the river that creates the border separating Pennsylvania from New Jersey and Delaware. It is also an important water source for more than 5 percent of people living near the river. Just like many other rivers, it does too have an important role in commercial success because of shipping and importing goods by boat.

There are many forms of Earth science related jobs needed in Pennsylvania. Some examples are teachers to teach young students the importance of the science, engineers, salesmen, weather reporters, and actual scientists. Earth science is very important to Pennsylvania and effects how we live our lives every day. All of the waterways or fuel production not only helps the state’s economy, it helps the entire country. Pennsylvania is home to many unique features that effect the state and country.