2013 Thacher Environmental Research Contest
2013 Thacher Contest Announcement
2013 Thacher Contest Entry Form
As Hurricane Sandy began to form in October, scientists, decision-makers, and the public turned to satellites and other observing instruments to track its path, measure its intensity, and predict its impacts. Given the storms 1,000-mile span, people across the Mid-Atlantic were able to take precautions to minimize damage.
After the storm, a different set of satellites (ones that observe land and oceans) provided data and imagery that, along with geospatial tools, proved crucial in assessing the devastation and determining how the coastline had changed.
Everyday geospatial tools are used to make new discoveries and better understand the changing planet. With the help of satellite data and information, paleontologists increase their odds of finding the best dig sites. Scientists were not only able to provide a more accurate count of Emperor Penguins in Antarctica, but they also discovered two new colonies via satellite images. A new smart phone application even combines crowdsourcing and Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to create a more-accurate navigation application.
The Thacher Environmental Research Contest (formerly the Thacher Scholars Award) is a national competition for secondary school students founded by IGES in honor of former IGES board member Peter Thacher, who died in 1999. Peter Thacher was former deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, NASA advisor and, at the time of his death, president of the Earth Council Foundation/U.S. He was a leader in promoting the use of satellite remote sensing.
Prizes are awarded annually to secondary school students (grades 9-12) designing and conducting the best projects using satellite remote sensing of the Earth. Three cash awards will be given – 1st place – $2,000, 2nd place – $1,000 and 3rd place – $500.
Student Awards: Three cash awards will be given — 1st place – $2,000, 2nd place – $1,000 and 3rd place – $500. Cash awards for team entries will be split among the winning team members.
Teacher Awards: In addition to prizes for the winning students, the teachers of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place students/teams will receive a $200 amazon.com gift card. If the student’s participation is part of an after-school club or other activity independent of school, the student can identify an adult “coach” on their entry form who would be eligible for this award (e.g., a parent, club leader, etc.). Only one teacher or coach recognition award will be provided for each 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place entry.
1. Any student who is enrolled in and attending secondary school (grades 9-12 – public, private, parochial, Native American reservation, or home school) in the United States or U.S. territories; or
2. Any student who is a United States citizen and enrolled in a secondary school (grades 9-12) attending:
- Department of Defense Dependents’ Overseas School or an accredited overseas American or International School; or
- foreign school as an exchange student; or
- a foreign school because his/her parent(s) are temporarily working and living abroad.
3. Entries can be submitted by individuals or teams. In the case of team entries, the cash award will be split equally among the winning team members. All team members must meet eligibility requirements.
Entries must be postmarked April 15, 2013. The winning entries will be announced by May 22, 2013.
- Only one entry per student.
- Student reports should not exceed 20 pages (including title page, abstract, text, charts/tables/images, and any appendices).
- Students should pick a presentation style that best suits their project. However, all reports should contain a title page (with project title, student’s name and contact information, teacher/coach name and contact information); abstract (a short description of the project, no more than 300 words); discussion of the procedures that they followed and results/what they learned; and references.
- Every submission must include a completed entry form.
- Page format: 8 1/2 x 11″ single-sided paper, 1 inch margins (top, bottom, and sides), 12 point font and double spacing.
- All sources and or references used (including websites) must be credited/referenced. Students may use the style guide of their choice. There are several major style guides from which students can choose, e.g., Chicago Manual of Style, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, and stylebooks of several newspapers (N.Y. Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.).
- No project will be eligible that involves human or non-human vertebrate animal experimentation.
- Submit two sets of the entire entry (1 original and 1 copy), including entry form.
- Signed, complete entries must be postmarked April 15, 2013.
- The names of the winning entries will be posted by May 22, 2013 at http://www.strategies.org.
- Late or incomplete entries will be disqualified.
- All entries will become the property of IGES and will not be returned.
- Winners agree that information and photographs about their entries can be used on IGES’ website and in IGES’ publications (e.g., brochures, annual reports), press releases, and for other publicity purposes.
- As a condition of entry, entrants agree that IGES shall have the right to use, copy, reproduce, publish, modify and make available the entry to the public via IGES’ website for any purpose, including but not limited to advertising and promotion of the contest.
- Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission for, and winners consent to, IGES to use a winner’s name, likeness and entry for advertising and promotional purposes without additional compensation.
- IGES plans to periodically contact winning students (e.g., annually to track academic and career paths). Winning entrants agree to respond to brief follow-up surveys.
Entries will be judged by IGES staff based on the following criteria: scientific/technical accuracy; creativity/originality; quality of presentation; thoroughness of research/methods/procedures; quality of conclusions; and demonstration of knowledge gained.
Criteria – What judges are looking for:
- The question/problem being studied is stated clearly and unambiguously.
- Scientific and/or technical facts and principles are correct and stated accurately throughout.
- All measurements/mathematical calculations are correct.
The project showed originality/creative ability in:
- The question asked/problem studied.
- The approach to solving the problem.
- The interpretation of the data.
- Presentation of results.
Quality of Presentation
- Well written and engaging, with no spelling or grammatical errors.
- Clearly focused with well-organized beginning, middle, and ending.
- Presentation style well-suited to the type of project.
- References are provided for all sources.
- Graphics, images, charts/tables are all clearly labeled and units of measurement identified.
- Consistent style throughout – e.g., how references are cited, punctuation.
Thoroughness of Research/Methods/Procedures
- Adequate data were collected to support the conclusions.
- Where appropriate, conclusions are based upon multiple trials or replications.
- The student is aware of other theories or approaches.
- Conclusions and/or data analysis describe possible errors or flaws.
- The student allowed himself or herself enough time to perform a thorough investigation.
Quality of Conclusions
- Data and results are clearly stated.
- Conclusions are insightful, clearly stated and flow logically from the data presented.
- The reason for studying the problem and/ or significance of findings is explained.
SUBMIT ENTRIES TO
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
Attention: Thacher Scholars Award
1600 Wilson Blvd., Suite 600
Arlington, VA 22209
or submit your entry as a PDF file by emailing it to: ThacherScholars [at] strategies [dot] org
Following are suggestions for questions that will help guide student projects.
- What is the question that you are interested in studying/investigating?
- Why are you interested in this problem/topic?
- What is/are your hypothesis/problem statement/goals for your project?
- What do you already know about this problem/topic?
- What do you need to learn to investigate/solve/explain this problem/topic?
- What geospatial tools and data can you use to investigate this topic? What are other resources that are available to help you?
- What procedures or methods will you use to do your investigation? How will you analyze data?
- What are possible explanations, solutions, or hypotheses? Are there recommended actions or other conclusions that you’ve developed as a result of this project?
- Are there things that you would do differently to re-design this investigation or are there alternate solutions/explanations?
NASA’s Earth Observatory is an interactive Web-based magazine where the public can obtain new satellite imagery and scientific information about our home planet. Visit the Earth Observatory to read feature articles on wide-ranging Earth system science topics, download datasets and images for analysis, read breaking news, learn about current and planned Earth missions, search an online library for reference materials, track natural hazards around the world in near-real time, and access interactive experiments and classroom activities.
This companion site to the NASA Earth Observatory is a comprehensive image gallery for access to NASA Earth science images, animations and data visualizations. Most resources are available digitally at multiple resolutions, with captions and metadata.
NASA Landsat Website
The Landsat Program is a series of Earth-observing satellite missions jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. Landsat satellites have taken specialized digital photographs of Earth’s continents and surrounding coastal regions for over three decades, enabling people to study many aspects of our planet and to evaluate the dynamic changes caused by both natural processes and human practices.
U.S. Geological Survey Landsat Website
Landsat-7 Datasets: LAN Files for Use with MultiSpec
This site provides a number of Landsat 7 scene subsets as LAN files that are intended for use with Purdue University’s MultiSpec software. Users also have the option of downloading the Landsat images as TIFF files in four different band combinations. Links are included to download Multi-Spec, a MultiSpec tutorial, and an introduction to remote-sensing PowerPoint presentation with detailed notes.
NOAA National Weather Service
The Satellite section shows the most recent image of the United States, taken from NOAA geostationary satellites, as well as 24-, 12-, 6-, and 3-hour loops.
NOAA Geostationary Satellite Server
ESRI designs and develops the world’s leading geographic information system (GIS) technology. Visit the following ESRI websites for resources on using GIS:
Online database of aerial photos, satellite images and USGS topo maps. Free to search and display lower resolution images; to access/download full resolution requires subscription. http://www.terraserver.com/
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The USGS “serves the Nation by providing reliable scientific information to describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect our quality of life.” Visit the following USGS Websites to learn more about resources that are available.
- Entry form is completed.
- Entry form is signed by student and a teacher, parent, or coach.
- Title page includes the following information: project title, student’s name and contact information, teacher/coach name and contact information.
- Abstract is included that is no longer than 300 words.
- 8.5″ x 11″ single-sided paper, 1-inch margins (top, bottom, and sides), 12 point font and double spacing.
- References are provided for all sources (including websites). The reference should be complete enough for a judge to locate the source. Students may use the style guide of their choice.
- Entries can be submitted either as (a) hard copies or (b) emailed as PDF files to ThacherScholars [at] strategies [dot] org. If you are submitting your entry in hard copy, please include two sets of the entire entry (1 original and 1 copy), including entry form, are submitted to IGES.
- Keep one complete copy for your records.
- Complete entries must be postmarked April 15, 2013 and sent to: Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Attention: Thacher Scholarship, 1600 Wilson Blvd., Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22209; (703) 312-0823.