Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 1:50 PM


TABER, John1, BRAVO, Tammy K.2, DORR, Perle2, HUBENTHAL, Michael2, JOHNSON, Jenda2, MCQUILLAN, Patrick James2 and WELTI, Russ2, (1)IRIS, Washington, DC 20005, (2)IRIS Consortium, 1200 New York Ave. NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005,

The Incorporated Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), with strong NSF encouragement, initiated an Education and Outreach program in 1998 with the goal of increasing public understanding of Earth science in general and seismology in particular. Since that time, the Education and Public Outreach (EPO) program has grown from a single IRIS staff member, where much of the work was done via significant volunteer contributions from members of the IRIS community, to a professional team committed to advancing awareness and understanding of seismology and geophysics while inspiring careers in Earth sciences. The original plan focused on K–12 and informal education, while there is now an added emphasis on undergraduate instruction, along with workshops and training for the IRIS community. An example of this expanded scope is the growth of undergraduate intern program from a single student per summer to an REU site with 15 students participating annually. What started as largely paper-based in-person instruction has grown into online professional development via videos, animations, visualizations, and continually evolving data-access tools.

A significant expansion of the program occurred with the initiation of EarthScope and USArray, where in the past 10 years, a wide range of activities has engaged students, teachers, informal educators, and the general public throughout the US. EarthScope has been highlighted in local, regional, national, and international media, and was ranked the “universe’s most epic science project” by Popular Mechanics, while some discoveries have been disseminated using modes of communication such as social media, that weren’t even imagined when IRIS EPO and EarthScope began.

The importance of ongoing evaluation and assessment continues to increase, as does the need to quantify the impact across the range of audiences served. IRIS EPO activities continue to be evaluated via a combination of both internal and external assessments, with an emphasis on formative evaluation. Results from these assessments inform the program's decision-making process, which has allowed IRIS to significantly enhance its EPO activities over time. (website:

  • taber_IRIS_EPO.pdf (28.8 MB)