Opening address from 2016-2017 PAESTA President David Curry
July 1, 2016
I would first like to thank you all, members of PAESTA, for allowing me the honor to humbly serve as your President for the next year. I will do my best to meet your expectations and to advocate for the Earth Sciences in my every action as President. In my inaugural welcome address, I would like to begin with a quote from my favorite science role mode, Carl Sagan:
It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure out robs the world of beauty and mystery. But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works—that white light is made of colors, that color is the way we perceive the wavelengths of light, that transparent air reflects light, that in so doing it discriminates among the waves, and that the sky is blue for the same reason that the sunset is red? It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.
Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994), 159.
Carl Sagan inspired me as a child with his books and his landmark video series “Cosmos.” He made difficult science concepts easy to understand. I have always been amazed by the way science unlocks the mystery and beauty of the natural world, and by becoming an Earth Science teacher, I decided that my mission would be, like Carl, to convince everyone else how amazing our complex universe really is. By your membership in PAESTA, I am confident that you share my enthusiasm and love for science. Thank you for your membership, but also thank you for sharing your passion for science with your students. You are doing incredibly important work. It is your membership, your seeking out of like-minded individuals for new teaching resources, that is the glue that holds this organization together.
One of my missions during my tenure will be continue the excellent leadership of our past presidents and to work closely with the other advisors and executive members, past and present, to advocate for Earth and Space Science education and to provide additional online resources for our members that will make their jobs easier and more rewarding. I would also like as a thrust of my efforts to continue to expand our membership into all areas of the state and beyond. Having been born and raised in the Pittsburgh area (Mt. Lebanon HS, ’87), I will make a concerted effort to expand our membership in the western part of Pennsylvania. I know we have an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in the Central and Western areas of the state to tap into, and I will work hard to attract new membership and to open up state-wide connection networks between Earth/Space Science teachers K-16. I hope to partner with Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Science Center in a similar way that we currently do with The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Look for a PAESTA booth at one of their teachers’ open house events this fall.
At the risk of alienating half of our membership by congratulating Penguin hockey fans from the Pittsburgh area (I’m a huge fan!), I would like to wish both Pittsburgh and Philly sports teams success in the upcoming year! Did you know that there are many connections between sports and the Earth Sciences? Look for a connection article in an upcoming monthly blog post!
In my upcoming monthly reports, I will also focus heavily on providing links to research and information on Earth’s changing climate. Recent studies suggests that many, if not most Earth Science teachers seem to have some ambiguity when it comes to teaching climate science (NY Times Article). As Earth Science teachers many of us may feel that it is difficult to cover climate and climate change because of how politicized the discussion on climate has become. I will in my monthly blogs offer guidance and resources that should help you to safely navigate the discussion in your classrooms. I would recommend that any teachers who would like to fully investigate the latest research on weather and climate to sign up for the free American Meteorological Society (AMS) graduate online course: DataStreme: Earth’s Climate System. It is an outstanding (and rigorous) course, and the price is very attractive for those on limited budgets. DataStreme Link. It is designed specifically for teachers, and It is offered twice each year if you are looking for courses to take in the fall. Having finished this, my second DataStreme course this past Spring, I would describe it as first-rate; one of the best courses I have ever taken.
Lastly, a longtime mission that I have had as a classroom teacher is to do my best to attack myths and misconceptions that students have about Earth/Space Science. I will be continuing this in my monthly newsletter posts. So if you could indulge me for one more moment, I’d like to invite you take a look at a link that is available on the PAESTA website dealing with that oft-misunderstood Coriolis effect. Help your students to bust this myth:: Do toilets and sinks drain in the opposite direction in the southern hemisphere because of Earth’s rotation? (Spoiler: NO :-) Coriolis Favorite Videos Link
Dave Curry, PAESTA President
Contact Dave with any comments/questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Dave Curry with an ice core from the Penn State Ice Core Laboratory (from D. Curry, used with permission)