About the CarbonEARTH focal theme
Carbon is a ubiquitous element in our world and is highly featured in a broad spectrum of basic and applied research areas, including materials science, energy science, earth and environmental sciences, and life sciences. Many challenges facing society today involve carbon, including global warming, waste disposal, renewable energy, and new technologies. Politicians and policy makers are asked to make decisions on subjects such as land management and energy allocation based on their carbon impact, but the level of public knowledge of the role of carbon in our world is minimal. In this program, we will address this deficiency by training graduate students in skills required to participate effectively in the public forum and by introducing current and relevant science content and science teaching strategies to the schools. We will focus on the carbon-related interdisciplinary areas of Matter and Materials, Ecosystems, Earth Processes, and Energy, dominant themes in the PA Department of Education Assessment Anchors for Grades 4-8 as illustrated below.
CarbonEARTH takes advantage of strong carbon-related research at Penn State, bringing together researchers from colleges across the University through the common bond of “carbon,” thereby opening up opportunities for additional interdisciplinary research. Further, design of a cross-listed course, Life Skills for Graduate Students, will provide a mechanism for expanding transferrable skills highlighted by GK12 for all STEM graduate students. Examples of related graduate research include investigating a) how landscape disturbances alter carbon storage and flux; b) coupled hydrological and ecological processes that affect water quality and quantity of water issuing from watersheds, and c) developing and characterizing carbon-based materials that can be used for various functions, such as solid-state hydrogen storage and adsorption of groundwater contamination.