Earth Science Week 2020

Earth Science Week at USGS

Scavenger Hunt Activity

Scavenger Hunt Activity

Want to look for Earth Materials in your home or classroom? Find the USGS Youth & Education 2020 Earth Science Week calendar activity here.

What can you find?

What is Earth Science Week?

Earth Science Week, founded in 1998 by the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), is an annual international event held during the second week of October to encourage better public understanding of and appreciation for the Earth Sciences and Earth stewardship. This year's Earth Science Week will be held from October 11-17, 2020 and will celebrate the theme "Earth Materials in Our Lives." 

The USGS partners with AGI to support geoscience literacy by distributing Earth Science Week Teacher's Toolkits, which contain K-12 educational resources from a broad range of partners, including USGS. Although many students are learning from home this year, many Earth Science Week activities are available online and on social media. Have fun learning about Earth, our one and only home!


Sunday, October 11: International Earthcache Day

An EarthCache is similar to a geocache, and is a special place where people can learn about unique, geological features. EarthCache pages include a set of educational notes along with coordinates.


Monday, Oct. 12: Minerals Day

Minerals Day is all about raising awareness of and appreciation for minerals and mineralogy! A mineral is a naturally occurring, inorganic solid with a distinct chemical composition (or range of compositions) and specific physical properties. Click here for a brief review. There are thousands of different kinds of minerals, so picking a favorite is challenging. Quartz is a common mineral that comes in many different colors, is harder than glass, and is made up of the two most abundant elements in Earth's crust (silicon and oxygen). As part of Earth Science Week 2020, USGS scientist Shannon Mahan talks about how she studies minerals in the video,"May the Quartz be WIth You."

To learn more about USGS work with minerals, visit the Energy and Minerals Mission Area, the Mineral Resources Program, and the National Minerals Information Center. Did you know that minerals can even be mapped from hundreds of feet above Earth's surface? Learn more about the USGS Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) and watch the Earth Science Week (AGI) webinar,"The Global Supply of Critical Minerals:Assessing and Tracking Critical Mineral Commodities" by USGS scientist Nedal Nassar.


Tuesday, Oct. 13: Earth Observation Day & No Child Left Inside Day

USGS, along with NASA and other agencies, partners with AmericaView to create lesson plans and other educational resources for working with Landsat satellite imagery, which are mostly targeted to grades 6-12. Downloads of this year's AmericaView board game, "Factory Earth: Making Products from Earth Materials" are available in English and Spanish and the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center's outreach and education website can be found here. No Child Left Inside Day encourages students to go outside and research the Earth outside, like a professional geoscientist. Can you get outside today and find something new about Earth? 


Wednesday, Oct. 14: National Fossil Day

Fossils are the remains of prehistoric life. Most fossils are found in sedimentary rocks because the other two rock types form when rocks either cool from molten material (igneous rocks) or change due to increases in heat and/or pressure (metamorphic rocks). You can play our Find-A-Feature Challenge: Fossil by looking for something in your house or around your neighborhood that looks like a fossil. For example, sometimes a leaf falls into wet concrete and its impression mark can be seen for years, even after the concrete hardens! National Fossil Day promotes the understanding and appreciation of fossils. If you're near Washington DC, you're welcome to visit the Trek Through Time, an interpretive, paved walking path through the trees behind the USGS National Center in Reston, Virgina. Bring your imagination as you walk through the past ~540 million years on Earth and enjoy learning about what Earth (and Virginia) were like during the Phanerozoic.


Thursday, Oct. 15: Geoscience is for Everyone Day & Shakeout Day

What inspires you about the Earth? What can you do to help young people from underrepresented communities explore exciting careers in the geosciences? This article shares a personal narrative from USGS scientist Dr. Bernard Hubbard about how he became interested in studying Earth. 

Thursday is also Great ShakeOut Day! On 10/15 at 10:15am local time join people all over the world practicing earthquake basics: drop, cover your head, and hold on! You can share a photo of your drill using the hashtag #ShakeOut. Learn more about Shakeout Day in this USGS top story.


Friday, Oct. 16: Geologic Map Day

Why are geologic maps important, and how are they used? Geologic Map Day promotes awareness and understanding of geologic maps and is hosted by the U.S. Geological Survey, Association of American State Geologists, National Park Service, Geological Society of America, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in partnership with AGI. Want to know what rocks are beneath your feet? Download a USGS geologic map of the entire United States, known as the Tapestry of Time and Terrain, here, and learn even more about geologic maps at:

The USGS Astrogeology program makes geologic maps of other planets and moons, too! Learn more about planetary geologic maps at:

Knowing what types of rocks are under your feet is vital to understanding natural hazard risks, resource identification, exploration, infrastructure planning, and more. EDMAP is part of the National Cooperative Geologic Program; follow the link for more information.

In this fourth installment of our Earth Science Week series, scientist Randy Orndorff gives us the lowdown on how geologic maps show what's down low, and he explains how these maps and the USGS's new geologic time scale and colors benefit planning, development, industry, and you.

Pat Jellison, U.S. Geological Survey, 2007 (Public domain.)


Saturday, Oct. 17: International Archaeology Day

Hosted by the Archaeological Institute of America, this event is a celebration of archaeology and discovery.