The Innovation Toolkit, ’cause you want to make stuff better, right?

A multi-disciplinary team of engineers from the MITRE corporation curated the MITRE Innovation Toolkit to help the community of innovative thinkers jumpstart the innovation process.

These tools help people understand how, when, and why to innovate, provide best practices and guidance, and jump-start the problem-solving process. They have organized the catalog of tools according to a team’s objective, team size, and style.

Do you ever have to? want to? facilitate problem solving sessions in your work or community of naturalists?

Try Rose-Bud-Thorn to conduct an analysis by visually categorizing positive (rose), potential (bud), or negative (thorn) aspects of a topic (e.g., system, product, process).

Try Lotus Blossom to focus the power of brainstorming using a structured, visual representation of ideas—pushing you to fill out every box with new ideas.

Try Trimming to visually document a someone’s experience through actions, pain points, wins, and opportunities in a process.

There are more tools on the site, and all of the materials are free to download.

Students in Community Science blog posts

These blog posts are part of Students in Community Science, a series of Thriving Earth Exchange articles featuring students who have had internship, educational or volunteer experiences in community science.

14 September 2018

Haley Gannon – Translating a Pivotal Internship Experience into a Satisfying Career

When I first came to the Thriving Earth Exchange, I was relatively new to the idea of community science. My experience up […]

13 September 2018

Shahan Haq – Adapting to Life after Adaptation Analytics: Reflection from an Intern

During an atmospheric chemistry course I took a few years ago, the professor would pause his lecture before major discoveries in the […]

11 September 2018

Babak J. Fard – Insights from an Interdisciplinary Community Science Experience

The Brookline, Mass. Thriving Earth Exchange project “Building Community Resilience to Extreme Heat” started in February 2016 with several initial meetings […]

10 September 2018

Angela DapremontHow Studying Mars is Relevant to Helping Earth’s Communities

angela.jpgI was fortunate to have a unique Thriving Earth Exchange internship experience during the summer and fall months of 2015. I started from scratch by familiarizing myself with the definition of community science, and ended up participating in the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting Thriving Earth Exchange events. […]

Earth Science Week: Oct 14-20, 2018

What is Earth Science Week?

It is an internationally recognized celebration that helps the public gain a better understanding of, and appreciation for, the earth sciences. Organized by the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), this annual celebration has attracted young people since 1998.

This year’s theme: Earth as Inspiration

According to AGI, this theme will engage young people and others in exploring the relationship between the arts and Earth systems and promote public understanding and stewardship of the planet, especially in terms of the ways art relates to geoscience principles and issues as diverse as energy, climate change, the environment, natural disasters, technology, industry, agriculture, recreation, and the economy.

Did we mention the Earth Science Week 2018 “Earth as Inspiration” toolkit?

  • 12-month school-year activity calendar, suitable for hanging
  • New Earth Science Week poster, including a learning activity
  • NASA materials on school resources and planetary exploration
  • National Park Service posters on caves, plants, and geology
  • Geologic Map Day poster dealing with artistic inspiration
  • Mineral Education Coalition “Quarry to Crop” postcard
  • IRIS material on seismology and earthquakes
  • AmericaView poster on exploring America through LandSat
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute poster on global change
  • UNAVCO materials on Geodesy and websites to explore
  • Fact sheet from Critical Zones Observatories
  • Switch Energy Project information on energy science
  • Bureau of Land Management dinosaur coloring page
  • Material on Constructing the Rock Cycle from GSA
  • Water Footprint Calculator information on water science
  • EarthScope material on what it means to be an Earth scientist
  • CLEAN, AMS, TERC, and GPS information and more

Order the 2018 Earth Science Week Toolkit – Earth as Inspiration!

For more info, please download and read the attachment here, and go to the website:

If you have any questions, please contact:

David Spears, State Geologist: or 434-951-6350


Habitat Network, Citizen Science talk, October 4th

Green Spring Gardens
4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312

Thursday, 4 October 2018
7:30 – 9 pm

Meet Megan Whatton and learn about her work with Habitat Network, which is creating a movement to transform yards and urban landscapes to functional diverse habitat to support wildlife and connect people to nature in communities around the world.  It is a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Network is powered by YardMap, a citizen science mapping tool used to capture data about ecologically relevant practices and to search for local information when planning for and improving a yard, school, or other greenspace.

Megan is the Habitat Network Project Manager for The Nature

Conservancy, where she works with scientists, partners, private landowners, citizen scientists and volunteers to re-imagine their properties and urban properties as habitat for the benefit of wildlife and people. Megan has an M.S. Degree in Environmental Science and Policy from George Mason University.

Sponsored by the Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS).  All VNPS programs are free and open to the public.   Continuing education credit for master naturalists!


How to help the magnificent monarchs

National Wildlife Federation, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Reston VA

Saturday, 22 September 2018

1-3 pm

Monarchs and their amazing migration to Mexico are in peril for many reasons. Learn about the

Georgina Chin, Class Instructor

monarch life and migration cycles, how you can attract them to your home garden or favorite public space, and how to raise them to send them on their fall journey. Resources for milkweed and garden design also included. The class instructor, Georgina Chin, is an elementary school teacher with a passion for monarchs and an instructor with Monarch Teacher Network. Learn more and register for the class through the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia. Paid Event.

What’s in your water? Fairfax County Well Water Clinic

Virginia Cooperative Extension

12011 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax

Monday, 17 September 2018

7 -9 pm

Do you know what’s in your drinking water? While public water supplies are tested daily for contaminants, most private water supplies, like wells and springs, are rarely tested. It is recommended that well owners test their water at least annually for bacteria and nitrates. Learn more about the quality of your water and how to care for your water system at the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Fairfax County Well Water Clinic. At this brief informational meeting, you will pick up sample kits and get instructions on how to collect your sample. For more information, please contact VCE at 703-324-5369 or visit the website for more information.

FMN Quarterly Meeting-Forest Bathing!

Hidden Oaks Nature Center

7701 Royce Street, Annandale, VA

Monday, 17 September 2018

7:30-9:00 pm

FMN Chapter Meetings are informative, fun, good for networking, and count for 1 hour of continuing education credit! Come reconnect with friends and fellow naturalists.  They are open to the public.

Clare Kelley will be leading a Forest Bathing session outdoors.  We will not be washing trees, but learning how time spent in nature can benefit our mood and immunity.

Happy Farm Happy Barn Manure Management Workshop

Frying Pan Farm Park

2709 West Ox Road, Herndon, VA  20171

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

6:30-8:30 pm

Come hear subject matter experts talk about horse farm waste management options, the do’s and don’t’s of waste management, composting techniques, benefits of “recycling” manure waste in pastures, and the available financial assistance to build a waste composting/storage facility right on your horse-keeping site. Presented by Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District‘s Senior Conservation Specialist, Willie Woode. Light dinner provided and registration is required. Visit the event website to learn more and register. Free event.

Green Breakfast presents green initiatives in schools

Brion’s Grille – 10621 Braddock Rd, Fairfax, VA 22032

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Breakfast begins at 8:30 am, $10 at the door, cash preferred

The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) presents its 94th Green Breakfast!  Meet Dr. Scott Brabrand,  Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools.

Fairfax County Public Schools’ slogan is engage, inspire, thrive. Come for a discussion on the green initiatives taking place in Pre-K-12 indoor and outdoor classrooms with Fairfax County Public Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Scott Brabrand, who was appointed by the Fairfax County School Board in July 2017.

Dr. Brabrand began his career in FCPS as a social studies teacher in 1994, a career changer who was inspired by doing volunteer work in the schools. In addition, he has served as the Assistant Principal at Herndon High School and as an Associate Principal at Lake Braddock Secondary School before being named principal at Fairfax High School in 2005. He also served as a Cluster Assistant Superintendent in Fairfax County and more recently spent five years as Superintendent of Lynchburg City Schools. He is a graduate of Georgetown University, George Washington University, and received his doctorate in educational administration as part of Virginia Tech’s Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Program.

Breakfast includes an all-you-can eat hot buffet with fresh fruit and coffee, tea, orange juice or water. No prior registration required. If you have any questions, please contact the NVSWCD at

Owl Moon program, September 22nd, registration open now

Gunston Hall Visitor Center

10709 Gunston Road, Lorton VA 22079

Saturday, 22 September 2018

7 pm

Friends of Mason Neck State Park present their annual Owl Moon event.  Secret Garden Birds and Bees will present a program on Winter Owls.  You’ll learn about the short-eared owls, long-eared owls, saw-whet owls and snowy owls that make the Virginia, Maryland and DC area their homes for the winter.  The stars of the show will be several rescue owls that live here year-round, which you can photograph and view up close.

Owl Moon is open to members of the Friends of Mason Neck State Park and their families, and registration is required.  Members can register at Register for Owl Moon.  There will be a short annual meeting and refreshments will be served.  If you aren’t a member, you can join for as little as $20 for a full year, and bring up to 4 other family members to Owl Moon as well as other Friends events.  You can become a member at Join the Friends of Mason Neck State Park and then register for the event.

Will mice be served as refreshments?