Eyes in the Sky: An NSF-Funded ITEST Project

From the outside looking in

NOAA SatelliteSARSAT satellite: Image source: NOAA.
Humans are interacting with the Earth in ways that have alarming and potentially irreversible consequences for Earth's systems. We are depleting natural resources, polluting the land, water, and air, and contributing to the extinction of many other life forms. As an observer on the ground, it is difficult to fully comprehend the complex and dynamic world we live in. However, satellites afford us a unique outside-looking-in perspective of our planet, which allows us to see large-scale features and changes over time. The data from these "eyes-in-the-sky" enable us to examine both global and local environmental problems and to consider and develop solutions that can safeguard Earth and its inhabitants.

The importance of geospatial information technology

The future of life on Earth depends on an understanding of how our planet works. Geospatial information technologies (GIT) such as geographical information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and image analysis provide the tools necessary to explore, model, interact with, and analyze satellite data to reveal vital information about how and why the global Earth system is changing, how Earth's systems respond to natural and human-based changes, and what consequences these changes may have for human civilization (NASA, Big Questions for Earth).

The Eyes in the Sky professional development program

Science and technology education have never been more important for our nation than they are today. Furthermore, we believe the creation of a scientifically literate and technologically capable workforce begins in schools and is supported by teachers. In response to this need, we created the Eyes in the Sky professional development program. Eyes in the Sky equips teachers, and in turn the students they teach, with the tools and knowledge necessary to access and analyze freely available satellite imagery and data to investigate local or regional issues, such as water use, urban growth, or resource management. Eyes in the Sky engages teachers in geospatial analysis and inquiry pedagogy through an eighteen-month program that includes distance-learning and face-to-face components.

Eyes in the Sky was created by *TERC with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovative Technology Experiences for Teachers and Students (ITEST) program and with support from ESRI, which donated site-licenses for GIS software. Over four years, we worked with forty-nine teachers. Participating teachers used geospatial information technologies to carry out community-based research projects with their students. Eyes in the Sky was a regional program, reaching forty-eight teachers from rural and urban underserved populations in Arizona plus one teacher from New Mexico.

Copyright and use

This website hosts instructional materials used in the Eyes in the Sky program. All materials published on this website are copy written and may not be redistributed for profit or republished in any form. The contents of this website may be used freely for educational purposes, but we ask that you acknowledge and credit the Eyes in the Sky project.

The Eyes in the Sky Project Team

For more information

If you are interested in learning more about Eyes in the Sky, please contact Carla_McAuliffe@terc.edu.

*TERC is a not-for-profit education, research, and development organization dedicated to improving mathematics, science, and technology teaching and learning.

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