August-September 2010      
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The AGC comments on the ACARA draft E&ES Senior Curriculum

Michael Leggo

Following further review of the draft curriculum, the AGC has written to ACARA strongly endorsing the submissions prepared by the National Committee for Earth Sciences (on behalf of the Academy of Science), the Heads of Earth Science Departments from Australian Universities, and various state curriculum bodies that support a substantial re-working of the proposed Senior Curriculum for Earth and Environmental Sciences.

These submissions all point to the need for a more integrated approach in which the geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere are handled together, with a strong focus on the interactions between these spheres and the ways in which each has influenced evolution of the other through Earth's history, continuing to the present day.

The AGC awaits the response of ACARA with great interest. This is a once in a generation opportunity to implement a new course and it is essential that we get it right first time.

Dr Michael Leggo
President, Australian Geoscience Council

Editorial

As noted in the president's introduction, the AGC and many other geoscience organisations have made it clear to ACARA that the draft senior curriculum needs a major re-write in order for it to underpin a truly modern approach to the teaching of Earth and Environmental Science. A similar set of comments have been sent to ACARA from representatives of the Environmental Sciences. No matter how ACARA respond, not everyone will be satisfied with the final outcome but there is no doubt we will soon have a new senior science curriculum to deal with.

However, with all the uncertainty surrounding state and federal politics at the moment I am yet to be convinced that the federal government will truly adopt, endorse and promote this new curriculum. I am also far from certain that state governments will adopt it without playing politics. Powerful lobby groups on both sides of the Earth and Environmental divide are angling to have the balance of the content swayed one way or another. Educators in some states have already voiced opinions that their state already does it better or that their regional needs are ignored in the global document and that the national document needs a state or even regional interpretation to work. Should this happen we will be back on the slippery slope to parochial control of curricula and the national curriculum which so many have worked so hard to produce will be a reduced to a sham that state and regional interests merely pay lip service to. Let's hope my concerns are unfounded.

Greg McNamara - Editor, GeoEdLink
All feedback and submissions should be sent to the GeoEdLink Editor, Greg McNamara

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Geoscience Education News & Reviews

Incursion in WA rocks

New geologists in the making?

Geo-Ed, a Western Australian venture, aims to bring geology into WA Primary Schools. Through this program teachers and their students can easily learn about the diversity of rocks & minerals in WA and their importance in our every day lives.

The incursion programs include Wearing Minerals, Ride a Rock, Pirates' Treasure, Mystery Minerals, Spending Minerals & Powering Minerals but there are many more to choose from. Geo-Ed also provides a pre-visit introductory discovery task to each class and provides teachers with suggested after visit follow-up activities.Geo-Ed incursions truly rock! Find out more here..


Fossil bandicoot with serious bite

A sabre-toothed bandicoot that is completely new to science has been found in Riversleigh rocks 18 million years old. Having fallen victim to a fall into a cave the animal died and its bones were encased in the limestone that slowly filled the site. Now the bones are slowly emerging from the rock in a UNSW acid etching facility.

The yet to be named fossil, a small carnivorous, insectivorous marsupial, may have resembled the 'Scrat' - as seen in the Ice Age movies, with a flexible nose and giant canines. Read more here.


Geologist! As seen on TV

A geophysicist and geologist, Dr Wouter Schellart, studies subduction zones, designs 3-D Earth models of tectonic plates, earthquakes and volcanoes and sometimes finds himself on television. Dr Schellart is a QE II Fellow at Monash University and entered his research in the Eureka Prize for Early Career Research. While he didn't win the peoples choice award, geoscience is a clear winner with such a great role model on show. Find out more about his interests and his research here.


Ultrasound puts the squeeze on wet waste

A new technique for conserving and reducing the waste bulk from minerals processing could also save mining companies millions of dollars in operational costs, help postpone significant capital expenditure, and recover large amounts of valuable water by 'squeezing' the water out of the waste's pore spaces. Jianhua (Jason) Du, a postgraduate student from the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE), is one of sixteen winners of the national 2010 Fresh Science program. These awards highlight the work of leading young scientists and show future scientists just how significant their role can be.Read more about this research here.


Mt Elephant open for business

Find out more about this fascinating part of Victoria through this wonderful Mt Elephant Open Day program. Open the first Sunday of each month, you can find out all you ever wanted to know and more about Mt Elephant, volcanism in eastern Australia and Kanawinka Geopark.


Pioneer mining unit comes alive

Earth Science students in years 11 and 12 at Pioneer State High School

Earth Science students in years 11 and 12 at Pioneer State High School spent a day at Coppabella mine in May, 2010. After a brief information session they were treated to a tour of the pit, the spoil heaps and the rehabilitation sites. The students gained a deeper understanding of the hard work that goes into providing this valuable mining resource and the efforts taken to restore the landscape.

Janet Schwabe, Earth Science teacher at Pioneer State High School says they are all grateful to Craig Bushell and his team for their time and expertise. Macarthur Coal generously provided this unique opportunity for these Mackay students.


On-line resources - links and reviews:

Oresomeresources is simply awesome!
This amazing website provides a comprehensive e-learning environment based around minerals and energy education with its content supporting teachers and students in the teaching and learning of the minerals and energy sector. Even the splash page animated graphic is amazing. Students will love it! Start here and follow the links.


GIS resources mapped out
Contour Education aims to provide introductory and advanced training for educators in the field of spatial technologies (Google Earth, GIS, remote sensing, GPS and more). They also have some useful, free, online resources for teachers here.


On-line resources [almost] unlimited.
If you are desperately looking for a lesson plan, resource recommendations or web pages then you must try this web site. While North American in specific areas such as state standards many of the resources are more than applicable to the Australian classroom. Explore the site using this link. GeoEdLink welcomes your comments on sites like this. If you know of even better ones let us know.


More on-line resources from the north
The (USA) National Repository of On-line Courses (NROC) is a growing library of high-quality on-line course content, especially multimedia materials, for students and teachers in higher education and high school. Links to all sites can be found here and the High School specific 'HippoCampus' can be found here! Note: most of the Earth Science resources on these US web sites are listed under Environmental Science.


US Earth Science Teachers Association
The (USA) National Earth Science Teachers Association also has a great site for resources here and also on the Windows to the Universe site.


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Geoscience Education Views

The AGC, education and you
by
Dr Michael Leggo, AGC President


The Australian Geoscience Council (AGC) is the peak body representing 8 Australian geoscience professional organisations. They are:

  • The Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG)
  • Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM)
  • The Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia (PESA)
  • The Geological Society of Australia (GSA)
  • The Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (ASEG)
  • The Association of Applied Geochemists (AAG)
  • The Australian Chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH)
  • The Australian Geoscience Information Association Inc.(AGIA)

The AGC supports and promotes the activities of its members and represents the interests of all members in many forums, great and small. One important role of the AGC and all its member organisations is to communicate new ideas, knowledge and policy to the professions members and to members of the wider community. Conferences and similar forums play an important part.

From 4-8 July 2010, the Geological Society of Australia held its bi-annual Australian Earth Sciences Convention (AESC) in Canberra. Even more recently the Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists and the Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia held their combined conference in Sydney from 26-28 August. These conferences were attended by hundreds of geoscientists and each had its appeal to particular fields of earth scientists, eg the AESC attendees are predominantly from academia and government geological surveys and research institutions. The other member organisations of the AGC run their own focussed conferences at a state, national and international level at varying intervals and quite commonly as joint convenors, teaming up with one or more other societies where the conference covers ground of common interest.

The programme and abstracts for the AESC can be found at: www.aesc2010.gsa.org.au/ This conference included hundreds of oral papers and poster presentations under the following themes - Dynamic Earth: from crust to core; Earth's environment: past, present and future; Life and the solar system; Geoscience in the service of society; Resource security and other topical issues. Importantly, there was, as always, a session for papers specifically about geoscience education.

In 2012, the AGC is responsible for the running of the 34th International Geological Convention (IGC) to be held in Brisbane. This is a global event held every four years and is the equivalent to the Olympic Games of Geoscience. Thousands of participants from over 100 countries are expected to attend. The 34th IGC has as its theme 'Unearthing our Past and Future' and will have an incredibly wide-ranging scientific programme plus education papers and a large array of field trips both in Australia and within our region.

As one would expect with such an important and complex event, preparations are well underway and there is strong collaboration between Australia's geoscientific societies to promote the intriguing geology and innovative technologies of our region to the rest of the world. Further information on this international event can be found at: www.34igc.org and GeoEdLink will keep you informed of the special education sessions as they are formalised. Education is a significant concern of the AGC, its members and our global colleagues. Hopefully some of you will attend the IGC (www.34igc.org) and tell the world about the wonderful things Australia has been doing to further education in this field.

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Geoscience Education Events & Activities

Earth Science Week Poster, Copyright Geoscience Australia
Earth Science Week Poster
Copyright Geoscience Australia

Earth Science Week 2010, 10-16 October - it's closer than you think!
Earth Science Week 2010 is on again this October. It may seem a long way off but before you know it, it will almost be too late to put on that event you have been thinking about. It is already too late to get that masterpiece film finished for the Geologi competition but there is just enough time to plan something around the theme of Exploring Energy. Do something and help celebrate Earth Science Week!


Teacher Earth Science Education Programme
The TESEP workshops continue to exceed expectations. PDs on Groundwater and Geothermal Energy are the latest offerings. Visit www.tesep.org.au to find out when the PDs will be offered in your area. Canberra region teachers can kick off Earth Science Week early with TESEP PDs being held at Geoscience Australia, October 8th and 9th.


Using GTAV resources in the Geography classroom - Nov 8
This is a free session run by GTAV. The program is designed for those teaching Geography from 7-12. The session will look at resources and teaching ideas taking note of the e5 instructional model, which requires students to be provided with tasks which allow them to Engage, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate their learning.


Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in Education Conference - Nov 26-27
This, the First International Conference of STEM in Education creates an opportunity for educators and researchers from schools, universities, businesses, industries and other private and public agencies to share and discuss their innovative practices and research initiatives that may advance STEM education.


Groundwater Courses for 2010
The National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training undertakes comprehensive groundwater industry training in Australia and internationally. If you are interested, view course dates and further course information here.


Writing Clear Science workshops
Writing science our students can understand is something we could all do better. Maybe these workshops could help you!.


Australian Geography Teachers Association Conference, 10-13 January, 2011
Early bird registration closes October 1.
Geography goes national
Register here.


Australian Science Teachers Association Conference - CONASTA 60, 10-13 July, 2011
Note: the dates have varied from other years to better accommodate state and territory holidays.
Look here for more information..


34th Session of the International Geological Congress (IGC) 5-12 August, 2011
This is guaranteed to be a big event with something for everyone.
Register your interest now!.


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