Dr. Barry Rock is trained as a botanist (a plant anatomist) and a geologist who has spent his career in higher education and is currently at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). While working as a professor and a research scientist, he has devoted much of his professional efforts on educating K-12 teachers and their students using hands-on science and math outreach curriculum-based activities, at local, regional and international programs. One of his major outreach efforts was conducted through the White House, when in 1994-95 he worked with Al Gore (then Vice President) to create his GLOBE Program (globe.gov). GLOBE stands for Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment, and is currently in over 130 countries, with over 2 million students being trained annually about how Earth Systems (Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, Biosphere and Geosphere) work and interact to create a hospitable environment. It was an amazingly important and successful K-12 educational outreach program. The key premise of GLOBE and the other K-12 outreach programs that Dr. Rock has created is: Students learning science by doing it! Dr. Rock was a nominee for the Presidential Medal of Science, and received the first Youth Learning as Citizen Environmental Scientists (YLACES) Medal from GLOBE.
Dr. Rock also has extensive experience developing curriculum materials for classroom use. Most recently, he’s worked with Journeys in Film, a company that creates such materials to accompany films with educational value (Hidden Figures, The Martian, etc.). Most recently, he worked with National Geographic, creating curriculum materials for One Strange Rock, a series of 10 episodes hosted by Will Smith and narrated by NASA astronauts who have seen Earth (the “one strange rock”) from orbit. Getting kids engaged in doing authentic hands-on STEM activities is one of his primary passions. Most of Dr. Barry Rock’s scientific career has focused on using Earth-orbiting satellites to detect, map and monitor variations in vegetation health from orbit, primarily with multispectral orbital systems on NASA’s Landsat and MODIS platforms. Between 1981 and 1987 he was a NASA research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, learning how to use such satellite data for the purpose of monitoring terrestrial ecosystems around the planet. Dr. Rock has also devoted parts of his career to the study of coastal systems, monitoring mangroves in the Florida Keys and salt marshes on the East Coast of the United States.