CWU Helping Lead Outreach and Education Related to
Earthquakes, Tsunami and Volcanic Hazards

Photo of workshop participants
EarthScope workshop participants experiment with a tsunami wave tank to better understand tsunami behavior [photo: Beth Pratt-Sitaula, Central Washington University]

Tens of thousands of residents in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska live in areas threatened by earthquake, tsunami, and volcanoes. Millions more tourists visit these coastal areas for the stunning scenery and wildlife. Yet many visitors and residents do not know what to do when natural disaster occurs. Working with educators from schools, parks, museums, and community organizations can be a great way to help spread the word on how to live safely with the active Earth.

For over a decade now, Central Washington University (CWU) has collaborated with a variety of universities and organizations to run professional development programs for educators to better learn about the science and preparedness of natural hazards of Cascadia. CWU has now extended its reach to helping run a similar program in Alaska by co-leading a three-year, $562,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) EarthScope Program to train educators and help run middle school STEM academies in Alaska. The EarthScope ANGLE (Alaska Native Geoscience Learning Experience; is directly building on two previous EarthScope-funded programs that CWU has helped run.

“The ANGLE project solidifies CWU’s already strong role in helping the USA be more prepared in the face of natural hazards,” says the project’s principal CWU investigator, Dr. Beth Pratt-Sitaula. “Furthermore ANGLE builds on CWU’s excellent track record in science education.”

Over the next three years, ANGLE will run three workshops for Alaskan educators and help run six Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP; Academies for middle schoolers. ANSEP is a premier STEM program for youth from rural Alaska. The first ANGLE educator workshop starts next week in Anchorage Alaska. Participants will learn cutting edge science that EarthScope is doing to better understand the geohazards many hands-on ways to engage learners in the science and hazards preparedness and mitigation. Later some of these educators will go on to work with the ANSEP students.

Alaska Pacific University (APU) is the lead institution and will receive $296,000 of the grant funds, whereas CWU will receive $208,000 and University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) will receive $58,000. The ANGLE Project Director and APU principal investigator (PI) is Jennifer Witter, who is also the STEM coordinator for the Anchorage School District. Other PIs are Beth Pratt-Sitaula, Geological Sciences Research Associate at CWU, and Herb Schroeder, ANSEP Director at UAA.