Geomagnetic Event Observation Network by Students (GEONS)

An inquiry-based approach to THEMIS science.

The THEMIS Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) team has established ten ground-based magnetometer stations each located in the proximity of a rural school in traditionally under-served, under-represented communities. In addition, two additional schools in Alaska are involved with the E/PO team through the THEMIS science ground-based observatories. A teacher at each of these schools is responsible for their magnetometer data and system as well as using the data with their students through lesson plans developed by SEGway and the Astronomy Café. The network of these teachers, students, and magnetometers together with other students who participate using the web is called the Geomagnetic Event Observation Network by Students (GEONS).

Students and teachers with project-based activitiesThis unique network is providing students and teachers with project-based activities that support inquiry and promote access to real scientific data collected in their neighborhood. This is one of the key targets of the National Science Education Standards (NSES) that is not routinely supported by traditional science curricular materials. GEONS is helping to introduce K-12 students to themes of fundamental importance, such as space weather and its effects on the habitability of the near-Earth environment, on satellite communications, and on electrical power distribution on Earth.

Teachers involved in the GEONS project have helped and are helping us to complete and test our THEMIS teacher's guides and users manual: (1) a ground magnetometer user manual appropriate for a school setting, (2) nationally-tested inquiry-based lesson plans, and (3) learning materials on how to utilize the magnetometer data to enhance classroom instruction in space science concepts. The lesson plans include topics such as: Forces and Motion, Magnetic Induction, he Geomagnetic Field, Solar Storms, Space Weather, and data analysis, as appropriate. Some flexibility is built-in to these materials so that a suitably motivated teacher could use the data as is in a set of simple lessons. These lessons are available on our "In the Classroom" webpage.

As part of the GEONS program, the Astronomy Café and the THEMIS E/PO team organize and hold teachers' Professional Development magnetism workshops each year with GEONS participants. These workshops provide content, training, and materials related to the THEMIS science mission and the GEONS magnetometers. The workshops are inquiry-based in both practice and theory and include strong emphasis on both scientific content and effective pedagogical approaches.

If you are interested in being part of the GEONS project, there will be several ways of joining us. You can access the GEONS data from the "GEONS data" link on the left. If you would like to become more involved, send us an email and we'll find out how to best include you in the project.

We will share our THEMIS lessons with educators at our teacher professional workshops. If you would like to participate in one of our workshops, please check our teacher workshop webpage to find out when and where we are holding them.