Take advantage of the voice you and your students have during Geography Awareness Week by reciting public service announcements (PSAs) each morning during school-wide announcements or in homeroom. You may challenge students to generate their own PSAs, or select from these PSAs written by students in the Environment Earth course at Penn State Brandywine in Fall 2016. Each PSA is listed here as it connects to the Earth Science Literacy Principles.


Big Idea 1: Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet

Have you ever wondered what an Earth scientist does? Earth scientists are involved in many activities. For example, Earth scientists work to find solutions on challenging topics, such as climate change. To accomplish this, they study aspects of our Earth’s geology, biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. They conduct experiments and collect data from across the globe to understand the Earth. With the data, scientists can make predictions about Earth’s past, present and future. Earth scientists construct models to explain evidence found through experimentation. It is important to recognize that Earth scientists make it possible for everyone to to know and understand Earth’s processes on a local to global scale.

Ever looked at a map before? Well there are actually many different kinds of maps and they are informative, too! There are maps that show many different islands throughout the world, maps that show elevation, maps that show the climate in different regions of the world, and many more. If you are interested in learning about geography, start by looking at a map!


Big Idea 2: Earth is 4.6 billion years old

Did you know that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old? That’s older than our grandparents! Many years ago, there was an explosion that sent dust and gas particles floating around in space. Over time, gravity began to pull these particles together to form our planets. The Earth contains three different layers: the crust, the mantle, and the core. The core, made from iron, is located in the center of the Earth. The mantle is made from molten rock. The crust is the outer layer of the Earth and has two distinct types of crust: continental and oceanic. How do we know the age of the Earth? Scientists study rocks, sediments, and fossils from animals that lived millions of years ago. The next time you pick up a rock, remember that it contains material that helps scientists learn everything from Earth’s formation to changes that have occurred over millions and billions of years across the planet.

Did you know that rock materials aren't just good to look at, but they also played an important role in human history? Long ago, our ancestors used rocks for tools. This period of human development lasted a long time - about 3 1/2 million years. This era ended about 4,000 to 6, 500 years ago when humans learned how to make metal for use as tools.


Big Idea 3: Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls? What about on an airplane or a day spent at the zoo? Earth is made up of rock, like the Grand Canyon, and water, like Niagara Falls. Earth is also a mixture of air, like what we fly through in airplanes, and life, like all of the animals at the zoo! What if I told you that none of this would exist if it weren't for the Sun? The light and heat that the Sun gives off is what fuels our Earth and all of its different systems. Think about it... if it weren't for the Sun, we wouldn't have elephants or tigers!

Rock, water, air, and life are all part of Earth's complex interacting systems. Scientists call these systems the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. These systems are found across our entire planet, and the interactions between these systems give us rivers, mountains, hurricanes, and volcanoes.


Big Idea 4: Earth is continuously changing

Do you like doing puzzles? Think of our planet as one giant puzzle where the pieces are constantly moving and changing. This is why the beaches we spend our summers at, or the mountains that we love to hike might not have been around during the dinosaur time. How cool is it that Earth is constantly changing?

Our planet never sleeps! Earth changes through geological, hydrological, physical, chemical, and biological processes. New oceanic crust continuously forms at mid-ocean ridges and other spreading centers, sinking back into the mantle at ocean trenches. Plate interactions change the shapes, sizes, and positions of continents and ocean basins, the locations of mountain ranges and basins, and the locations of earthquakes and volcanoes. Through various timescales, there are changes that take place in the patterns of ocean circulation and climate and the distribution of natural resources and living organisms.


Big Idea 5: Earth is the water planet

Water can be found anywhere -  coming out of a faucet, in water bottles, at the pool, waterparks, and the beach. For example, without water, waterparks wouldn’t exist today. In addition, without water, we would be extremely dehydrated and it would hurt our bodies, as we are made of ~60% water. We need water for energy to move around. Also, Just like after playing outside on a bright sunny day, the first thing that comes to our minds is to drink water. The movement of water is important, as water in the ocean forms our beaches, and water on land can create other landscapes such as river basins.

The precursor to a major world disaster is in our midst! Sea levels have rapidly been rising ever since the beginning of the 20th century and it's because of both human and natural causes. Pollution is causing glaciers and ice sheets to melt. If you don't want your hometown to be submerged under water, remembers to treat the Earth with care.


Big Idea 6: Life evolves on a dynamic Earth and continuously modifies Earth

Over time, species have evolved or become extinct. For example, millions years ago, dinosaurs used to live on Earth, but one day they died out. Today, scientists have found fossils of dinosaurs and other extinct animals all around the world and are discovering how these fossils are similar to animals we see today. For example, the woolly mammoth lived during the Ice Ages. The mammoth is now extinct but is similar to a modern-day elephant.

Many exciting new species of animals are being discovered all the time on land and in our oceans. Some of the recently discovered species include the ninja lanternshark, the pig-nosed vampire rat, and the peekaboo spider. If you want to learn more about interesting creatures like these, go to!


Big Idea 7: Humans depend on Earth for resources

This is where we live! Earth is our home and we depend on all of Earth’s resources so that we can live comfortable lives. People need resources like oil, coal, and freshwater to continue living on Earth. Resources sometimes take a long time to form or process for human use, so we need to make new technology to make sure we have enough resources for the future.


Big Idea 8: Natural hazards pose risks to humans

Watch out! Earth is always changing. Earthquakes, hurricanes, sinkholes, and erosion occur because the Earth naturally changes. Sometimes, humans change Earth too quickly which can lead to fires or floods. This can be very dangerous for the human population if Earth changes too fast. We have to look out for the changes and try to reduce natural hazards and hazards caused by humans from happening to take care of the Earth.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, as temperatures increase due to global warming, natural hazards such as extreme weather, wildfires, floods, droughts, and heat waves will become more common. The increasing temperature of the Earth will also contribute to the intensity of these events. This aspect of global warming can have the greatest effects on our everyday lives.


Big Idea 9: Humans significantly alter the Earth

As the human population continues to increase, so does the impact that we make on Earth processes. Humans are speeding up the rate of climate change, which is causing the ice in the Arctic to melt, and our environments to change. Humans also are destroying habitats where animals live, causing them to go extinct. Much of the things we do to the Earth cannot be undone, but if we all work together we can lessen the impacts they will have on the future of the Earth.

The year 2016, according to NOAA and NASA analyses, is on track to be the hottest year on record, surpassing even recent years, like 2014 and 2015 in average temperature. This is in large part due to human activity. You can help reverse this trend by reducing your carbon footprint.