Michael West

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
of Columbia University

Educational interests
It is nearly impossible in 2000 to read the morning paper and put current events into perspective without some grasp of the Earth sciences. The Kyoto protocol, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, radioactive waste disposal at Yucca mountain.... these are issues with direct impacts on all of us. Earth and environmental science exposure is necessary to put these issues in perspective, make informed personal decisions and cut through misinformation.

To maintain a society that can understand the unique issues we face today, Earth and environmental science education must be taught effectively to a wide audience. The challenge is to selectively distill a vast number of concepts to a format that can be digested quickly by people who will devote the majority of their studies to fields outside of science. I believe this is how to affect the biggest change.

Concurrently, we are being empowered with technological advances that are revolutionizing the classroom landscape each year. It is an exciting time in education at all levels. Both the challenges and tools are new and are evolving rapidly.

Instructor's guide to WebSeis
WebSeis is a real-time data interface to Lamont seismic stations from Deleware to Vermont. These stations are responsible for monitoring earthquakes throughout this region of the country. My Instructor's guide is a resource being developed to assist teachers (Jr. high- through college) who use WebSeis in their classrooms. On-site one-day workshops have proven very successful and WebSeis is now being used in numerous classrooms. Downloadable labs are currently under development.
Guide to quantitative skills assessment
This series of documents was created to help teachers assess the quantitative aspects of a course. We created the guide following a workshop by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) on a similar topic. While Earth science teachers at all levels expect a degree of math ability from their students, we rarely devote class time to reinforcing these skills. The material we have written here provides a straight forward approach to help close the gap between skills and expectations. Though written with Earth science courses in mind, the approach is applicable to any course that expects mathematical skills of its students.
The Ardekul, Iran earthquake of May 7, 1997
The American Museum of Natural History's Earth Bulletin project provides updates on significant Earth events including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, etc. I put together detailed information about the magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Ardekul, Iran as prototype material for the Earth Bulletin program. Details including faulting history, structral damage, population impact and political ramifications were assembled to give an overview of typical earthquake-related subjects.