Education in Earth Sciences (Master's and Certificate Programs)

Education in Earth Sciences (Master's and Certificate) programs are designed for teachers of middle and high school science and focuses on the earth sciences. Students leave with extensive knowledge of the geosciences, energy and mineral engineering, meteorology, geography, and astronomy. This program also includes course material on curriculum and instruction, meaning you will study new trends in the teaching and learning process, how students learn, and best practices for educating. Many of the science-based courses are available for you to review and use as OER resources.

Computation and Visualization in the Earth Sciences

Credit: Earthquake locations from USGS by E Richardson © Penn State University licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Course Description

In EARTH 801, you will develop skills in a programming language designed for visual arts and visualization while exploring Earth science topics. Specifically, you'll learn and practice digital graphics capabilities in order to render Earth science concepts that are otherwise difficult to visualize due to complicated space and time scales. Here, you will interact with large, open, freely-available data sets by collecting, plotting, and analyzing them using a variety of computational methods.

multiple maps

Maps by Pxhere is licensed under CC0

Course Description

Maps are powerful visual tools, both for communicating ideas and for facilitating data exploration. In Geog 486: Cartography and Visualization, you will learn design principles and techniques for creating maps with contemporary mapping tools, including ArcGIS Pro. In this lab-focused course, you'll apply cartographic theory to practical problems, with a focus on design decisions such as selecting visual variables, classifying and generalizing data, applying principles of color and contrast, and choosing projections for maps.

Planets, Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe

Credit: NGC 4013 and the Tidal Stream  (c) R. Jay GaBany, Used with permission

Course Description

Walking up and down the hallways of Davey Lab at Penn State, you can find astronomers searching for and characterizing exoplanets, monitoring supernovae and other exploding stars, and measuring the details of the accelerating expansion of the Universe to determine the nature of dark energy. In Astro 801, we learn that with only the ability to measure the light from these distant, unreachable objects, we can still determine how the Solar System, stars, galaxies, and the Universe formed and evolved since the Big Bang.

Course Description

Increasingly volatile climate and weather; vulnerable drinking water supplies; shrinking wildlife habitats; widespread deforestation due to energy and food production. These are examples of environmental challenges that are of critical importance in our world, both in far away places and close to home, and are particularly well suited to inquiry using geographic information systems. In GEOG 487 you will explore topics like these and learn about data and spatial analysis techniques commonly employed in environmental applications.

From Meteorology to Mitigation: Understanding Global Warming

Credit: Blue Icebergs Under Cloudy Sky by Pixabay is licensed under CC0

Course Description

Human-caused climate change represents one of the great environmental challenges of our time. As it is inextricably linked with issues of energy policy, a familiarity with the fundamentals of climate change is critical for those looking to careers in the energy field. To appreciate the societal, environmental, and economic implications of policies governing greenhouse gas emissions, one must understand the basic underlying science. METEO 469 serves to lay down the fundamental scientific principles behind climate change and global warming.

The Nature of Geographic Information

Credit: Tumey Hills by Michael Westphal, BLM is Public domain

Course Description

The Nature of Geographic Information is an orientation to the properties of geographic data and the practice of distance learning. The purpose of this course is to promote understanding of the Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIS&T) enterprise. GIS&T is the intersection of professions, institutions, and technologies that produce geographic data and render information from it. It is a rapidly growing and evolving field. Learning is a way of life for all GIS&T professionals.

Energy in a Changing World

Credit: Green city concept, cut the leaves of plants, isolated over white by kirillov alexey, licensed through Shutterstock used with permission

Course Description

What is energy? It's the hot in heat, the glow in light, the push in wind, the pound in water, the sound of thunder and the crack of lightening. It is the pull that keeps us (and everything else!) from simply flying apart, and the promise of an oak deep in an acorn. It is all the same, and it is all different. Sunshine and waterfalls won't start your car, and wind won't run the dishwasher. But, if we match the form and timing of the energy with your needs, all of these things could be true.

Course Description

In this course we will explore topics from disciplines within the solid Earth sciences. In each lesson, we'll also touch on some ways the topic links to other scientific disciplines. Each unit is designed to present both the cutting-edge science as well as the background a secondary-school student (or her teacher) would need to place the research in context. Gaining an appreciation of how scientists choose the subjects they study is as fundamental to Earth science as the discovery of the facts themselves.

Controversies in the Earth Sciences

Course Description

Think science has all the answers? Think again. This course will use real, authentic data to explore and investigate modern controversies in Earth Sciences. Use tide gauge records to understand how countries around the world attempt to protect themselves from tsunami events. Process seismic data to predict earthquake recurrence in the New Madrid seismic zone, right here in the breadbasket of the US. Sort through the millions of years of the geologic timeline to shed some light on what actually did, and did not, kill the dinosaurs.

Earth Surface Processes in the Critical Zone

Credit: Blue and Gray Moon during Nighttime by Jaymantri is licensed under CC0

Course Description

Rapid changes at Earth's surface, largely in response to human activity, have led to the realization that fundamental questions remain to be answered regarding the natural functioning of the Critical Zone, the thin veneer at Earth's surface where the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere interact. EARTH 530 will introduce you to the basics necessary for understanding Earth surface processes in the Critical Zone through an integration of various scientific disciplines.

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Course Spotlight

From Advanced Python Programming for GIS (GEOG 489), learn advanced applications of Python for developing and customizing GIS software, designing user interfaces, solving complex geoprocessing tasks, and leveraging open source.Visit the course.

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Richard Alley

Dr. Richard Alley has been with us since the beginning, with one of our first OPEN courses - Geology of the National Parks. See what he has to say about the OPEN.ED effort over ten years later.