Program Plan

The IRIS E&O program plan was developed by the IRIS E&O Standing Committee in consultation with many individuals within the IRIS Consortium, and with educators and geoscientists in the wider Earth science community. It was published in April 2002.

Download the full program plan as a PDF document.

Executive Summary

Program Plan CoverSeismology provides a window into the inaccessible Earth and is fundamental for understanding our dynamic planet. It allows us to prospect for and benefit from Earth's natural resources, and to assess and mitigate its earthquake and volcanic hazards. Seismology plays a vital role in monitoring man-made and natural seismogenic events ranging from small industrial explosions to the ringing of the entire Earth. Appreciating and understanding seismology's scientific and societal relevance requires knowledge of geology and physics, often coupled with elements of oceanography, electronic and computer instrumentation, civil engineering, public policy, and other disciplines. Seismology is thus an engaging and quantitative science exhibiting a myriad of connections to broader areas of science and society. As such, it can be illustrative of both the predictive power of simple physics-based models, and of the astounding complexity of Earth systems science.

The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) is a National Science Foundation supported consortium of nearly 100 research universities across the United States. Since its 1984 inception IRIS activities have catalyzed unparalleled growth in high-quality seismic data and associated groundbreaking research. IRIS recognizes the potential for professionally coordinated Education and Outreach activities in seismology and associated Earth sciences to significantly advance national awareness, interest, and understanding of science and mathematics.

IRIS E&O activities are designed for audiences ranging from K-16 students to the general public, and are focused where IRIS is well-positioned to make substantive contributions commensurate with its unique position as a large research university consortium incorporating world-class research and data resources. Program goals will be advanced by the E&O staff in close collaboration with a diverse assortment of allies, including IRIS members and their institutions, K-12 teachers, undergraduate institutions, science and news journalists, and science museums. IRIS will also work closely with other national Earth science teaching and research organizations, regional earthquake centers and federal agencies with strong mandates for public education, to maximize joint effectiveness and reduce redundancy. An increasingly important component of IRIS E&O will be contributions to complementary national Earth science initiatives, such as EarthScope, the Digital Libraries for Earth Science Education (DLESE), and the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), which offer significant nationwide venues to advance Earth Science interest and literacy.

Leveraging IRIS resources to produce nationally significant results will require substantial and sustained outreach to the wider education community. Important efforts in this direction include a range of K-16 teacher workshops, widely distributed educational modules, and associated tools (including seismographs and educational software for viewing and interpreting seismograms), and a recently instituted IRIS Educational Affiliate membership program for undergraduate colleges and universities. Outreach to the general public will be enhanced through a distinguished lecture program, seismology museum exhibits, improved educational access to and use of seismic data, and other general information initiatives and materials. An essential component of gauging the impact of our efforts in all the above areas will be an assessment plan incorporating internal and external review.

Core Activities and Audiences for the IRIS E&O Program

A Focus on People


Activity Audience

Educational Affiliates Undergraduate institutions
Professional development for undergraduate teaching Undergraduate faculty
Professional development for Earth scientists working with K-12 teachers Graduate students and professional Earth scientists
Professional development for K-12 teachers K-12 teachers
Undergraduate Research Internships Undergraduate students
Graduate Student Teaching and Communication Workshops Graduate students
Graduate Student Travel Grants Graduate students
Efforts to increase diversity throughout our program K-20 students
Distinguished Lecture Program Students and faculty at colleges and universities, public
EarthScope/USArray All Americans

A Focus on Products

Activity Audience

Posters and one-page information sheets Public and K-16
Museum Exhibits Public and K-16
Seismometers in Schools Program K-16 schools
Instructional Materials (Teachable Moments resources and other curriculum modules) K-16
Seismic Data Analysis Tools for the K-16 classroom (AmaSeis, WILBER and VSN Explorer) Public and K-16
Web access to seismic data and related information Public and K-16