QUEST 2019

Quest Summer 2019

Weather  -  Earth Systems  -  Environmental Changes

QUEST offered three week-long summer institutes on the Princeton University campus and a four-day field based program in collaboration with the NJ Pinelands Preservation Alliance.  Large Scale System Interactions:  Volcanoes and the Interplay of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology as well as Weather & Climate took place July 8 - 12, 2019, both on campus.  The Pine Barrens Fire Ecology took place with researchers in the field fron July 15 - 18, 2019 in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.  

1. Large Scale System Interactions:  Volcanoes and the Interplay of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology for teachers in grades 3-12 in all content areas

***Prof. Blair Schoene who co-facilitated this unit was recently featured on the Princeton University homepage!  

For as long as there has been Earth, there have been volcanoes.  And volcanism is ongoing; at any one time a dozen or more volcanoes are actively erupting on land, along with eruptions on the ocean floor.  Indeed, volcanoes are a critical component of the Earth system, and have been responsible for the formation of Earth’s atmosphere, water, ocean floor and much of the land surface on which we live.  But volcanoes have enormous power and can have devastating effects on human populations, dramatically alter landscapes, and affect weather and climate - and may even have been involved in the mass extinction of the dinosaurs! 

In this unit teachers:

  • Explore the physical, chemical, and plate tectonic controls on volcanoes as well as biologic impacts.
  • Learn how scientists at the Princeton University Radiogenic Isotopes Laboratory date rocks in order to understand the timing of processes and events in earth history.
  • Identify patterns that allow the monitoring of volcanoes and forecasting of volcanic activity.
  • Consider engineering solutions to mitigate the impacts of volcanoes on humans.

With Laurel Goodell and Blair Schoene, Ph.D., Department of Geosciences

2. Weather & Climate for teachers in grades 3-8 in all content areas

Weather impacts all of our lives and weather patterns seem to be changing.  What is going on? 

Weather is produced by interactions of air, water, and land powered by energy from sunlight on the rotating Earth.  Teachers will experiment with air pressure, temperature, seasons, the greenhouse effect, humidity, clouds, wind, and the Coriolis effect.  We will explore how those factors relate to both typical weather and severe weather such as hurricanes and storms.  We will consider how changes in climate may affect weather patterns.

With Steve Carson, Ph.D. and Danielle Schmitt, through support from the Cooperative Institute for Climate Science (CICS): a collaboration of Princeton University and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL).

3. Pine Barrens Fire Ecology for teachers in grades K-12 in all content areas

In this program teachers investigated how forests vary in their response to varying fire disturbance histories.  Participants spent four days in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, an approximately 1.4 million acre fire adapted system in southern New Jersey.  Data collection took place in a 1,000 acre cranberry bog and surrounding buffer as well as an adjacent 1,000 acre preserve.  Plant diversity, abundance and insect community assemblage will be investigated at sites with varying disturbance regimes.  Participants developed a hypothesis based on expected response to fire seasonality and intensity and will consider how fire can be used as an ecological management tool.

The Pinelands Preservation Alliance located in Southampton, NJ served as our home base for discussing Pine Barrens ecology, developing hypotheses, analyzing data and presenting.  Participants are expected to come prepared for rain or shine field data collection and will be expected to present their findings upon the conclusion of the program.  Upon completion of the unit, teachers become more familiar with the ecology of the region, developing a hypothesis, collecting and analyzing ecological data and presenting on these data with research scientists.

With Ryan Rebozo, Ph.D., Director of Conservation Science, Pinelands Preservation Alliance.


The Watershed Science Teacher Academy, a research-based partnership

CLEAN WATER: JULY 22 – 26, 2019

Teachers will learn about major factors affecting water quality and the engineering principles behind water management from Watershed scientists, educators, and water stewards. Teachers will design solutions to address problems of stormwater runoff created by manmade features in a nearby community.

With: Steve Tuorto Ph.D., Director of Science and Stewardship; Jeff Hoagland, Education Director, at the Watershed.

For more information and to register please visit The Watershed Institute website.


Thank you to the Overdeck Education Innovation Fund for your generous support of QUEST!