December 2007     
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This edition of GeoEdLink is sponsored by the
Petroleum Exploration
Society of Australia

AGC National Summit Report:

The plight of university geoscience education and the supply of graduates
27 September 2007

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About 50 representatives of university geoscience departments, state and federal government agencies and industry gathered at Geoscience Australia in Canberra under the auspices of the Australian Geoscience Council (AGC) to debate the serious issues surrounding tertiary geoscience education and to determine a way forward for their long term resolution.

The summit discussed:
  • What should a national tertiary geoscience education system look like?
  • What options are there to give effect to a national system?
  • Who needs to do what?

There was a consensus that that unless a national approach was taken it was unlikely that the current situation would improve and there was a significant chance of further deterioration.

The Summit brought together a 'federation' of interests in the geosciences - the AGC, representing learned and professional societies; universities; industry groups and government agencies. Each has a legitimate interest in the issue but also has its own legitimate interest and activities of relevance to its own raison d'etre. The challenge is to marshal these interests into a collaborative system whilst allowing for individual interests and expression and to sustain the system into the longer term.

It was agreed that a document be prepared that encapsulated the vision for a national program of action aimed at establishing a national tertiary geoscience education system and recognising the roles of the various stakeholders. This document would be developed by the end of 2007 and would be used to gain support for the plan by the universities, federal government, industry groups, relevant government agencies and other stakeholders.

The full report is available in pdf format via this link: AGC_Tertiary_Education_Summit_Report.pdf

Dr Trevor Powell
President, Australian Geoscience Council


This edition of GeoEdLink coincides with the election of a new federal government with a mandate to implement an 'education revolution' and a clearly articulated policy to create and implement a national curriculum. Time will tell if these promises come to pass or fall by the wayside as all other attempts at a national curriculum have done. However, all geoscience educators and those interested in maintaining or improving the level of geoscience education in schools should be on alert to ensure that the importance of geoscience in the curriculum is not lost in the battles that a revolution inevitably brings. In recent years geoscience has been fighting a loosing battle to maintain its importance in the science curriculum. This new revolution may well be decisive in determining where geoscience resides in the curriculum for decades to come. This is certainly a major opportunity for us to reverse the trend but it is also a major threat that we must seriously address if we are interested in saving geoscience from being vanquished altogether.

2008 is just around the corner and with it comes the International Year of Planet Earth. Planning to celebrate IYPE has been underway for sometime now and many organisations have aligned their education, outreach and general activities with IYPE. It is not too late to do the same for any activities you are planning for the next 18-24 months. IYPE is happening regardless; maximizing its usefulness in promoting events and fostering an ongoing interest in geosciences amongst teachers, students and the general public is still up to us. Hopefully IYPE will not be an opportunity lost.

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


Geoscience Education News & Reviews

IYPE student competition closes

The IYPE student competition run by Geoscience Australia and the Geological Society of Australia is now closed. Entries received included poetry, manuscripts, songs, musical scores and photographic images. All entries were of a high quality and judging is underway. The GSA will announce the winners mid December.

2007 AIG Geoscience Student Bursary Awards

Every year the Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG) awards bursaries to geoscience Honours & Postgraduate students at Australian universities. The bursaries are funded by sponsorship from individuals, companies and geoscience organisations. This year there was an excellent response from students and in September AIG awarded geoscience bursaries to ten students around Australia. Congratulations go to the following students on their awards:

  • Robin Armit - Monash University
  • Matthew de Paoli - Sydney University
  • Lachlan Hallett - University of Adelaide
  • Zarah Heyworth - University of Queensland
  • Megan Hough - Monash University
  • Catherine Loye - University of Adelaide
  • Grant Mockunas - Ballarat University
  • Ruth Musgrave - Monash University
  • Thomas Raimondo - University of Adelaide
  • Rachel Skelly Vazey - University of Newcastle

Full details of the awards and student projects are available here [91kb pdf]: AIG_Bursary_Awards_2007.pdf

Mining Hall of Fame inductees announced

Prospectors and Miners, Scientists and Directors, Educators and Investors have all played an integral part in Australia's mining development. Their pioneering spirit, their colourful personalities, their powers of observation and painstaking research have all helped shape the character and spirit of this nation.

The Australian Prospectors & Miners Hall of Fame seeks to recognise the significant contribution made by individuals or groups of people to the Mining industry by inducting them into the Mining Hall of Fame. An advisory board of mining historians, researchers and experts analyses the applications and after careful consideration makes recommendations to the Hall of Fame Board on the individuals to be inducted each year.

The 2007 Inductees are...

  • Mr. Adam Johns JP (1840 - 1896)
       Recognised in the category of Prospectors & Discoverers
  • Mr. Richard Slee (1879 - 1935)
       Recognised in the category of Heroes
  • Mr Lionel Cullen
       Recognised in the category of Heroes
  • Sir Ian Wark CMG, CBE, DSc, (1899 - 1985)
       Recognised in the category of Scientists and Technologists
  • Professor Howard Knox Worner CBE (1913 -2006)
       Recognised in the category of Scientists and Technicians
  • Oliver Holmes Woodward C.M.G. MC 2bars (1885 - 1966)
       Recognised in the category of Directors & Management
  • Mr. Donald Frederick Fairweather (1921 - 2006)
       Recognised in the category of Directors and Management
  • Sir John Seymour Proud (1907 - 1997)
       Recognised in the category of Directors and Management
  • Andrew Fisher (1862 - 1928)
       Recognised in the category of Labour

Specific details on the induction process and a list of those already inducted can be found at and the complete 6 page press release can be found here.

Summer School Science goes South
The Australian Government has committed funding of $101.7 million over four years to Summer Schools to provide 1,000 of Australia's best teachers each year with opportunities to further enhance their knowledge and skills in one of the five priority areas of literacy and numeracy, English, mathematics, science and Australian history.

In September the government announced the Science Summer School would be conducted by a consortium from Flinders University and the University of New England University and would be held in Adelaide. The Summer School for Teachers of Science will bring together some of Australia's best science teachers for a 10-day residential programme with leading academics and international keynote speakers.

Teachers selected for the Summer Schools have recently received their advisory letters. Congratulations one and all.

A new code of conduct
A new national code on responsible research practices and handling misconduct has been released by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Australian Research Council (ARC) and Universities Australia.

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research advocates and describes best practice in research for researchers and institutions, as well as setting out a framework for handling breaches of the Code. While the document is aimed at universities and researchers, it can be applied by any organisation involved in conducting research.

The Code can be found at

On-line resources - links and reviews:

GSA Fact-ites and Quizzicles
The Geological Society of Australia offers a range of practical materials aimed at providing quick information and activities for busy teachers.

Fact-ites are topical fact sheets written in plain English with descriptions, explanations, facts and activities suitable for middle school students. The content and questions are aimed at middle school students but the level is not explicit, allowing teachers to use them in a variety of circumstances. Fact-ites are provided in easy to download pdf format, printer and photocopy ready.

Quizzicles are online interactive geoscience puzzles and quizzes for middle school students. They are easy to work through, engaging and provide feedback on incorrect selections.

The GSA is producing and publishing both Fact-ites and Quizzicles but also invites teachers to submit ideas or actual content and exercises for consideration. Proposals should meet a demonstrated middle school (geoscience) teaching need. Fact-ites must contain appropriate questions or problems and be 1 or 2 A4 pages of information and 1 or 2 A4 pages of questions, problems or research stimuli. Quizzicles must contain accurate scientific information and be at an appropriate reading level for middle school. The GSA assumes ownership of the material but authorship is acknowledged on the publication and can be cited.

LabLinks goes to Earth and Beyond
Australian Science Innovations recently launched their LabLinks website. The Earth and Beyond LabLinks section takes you to Mordor [the real one], fossil finding in Canberra, to outer space and the inner Earth. All LabLinks are designed to promote the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in lessons to engage students and improve their learning outcomes.

LabLinks activities are written by teachers nationwide who enthusiastically integrate ICT in their lessons. They are accessible online for teachers with no login or sign up required.

LabLinks is an initiative of Australian Science Innovations (ASI) and The National Centre of Science, Information and Communication Technology and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (SiMERR). Financial support is provided by the Australian Government through the Australian School Innovation in Science, Technology and Mathematics (ASISTM) program.

So, you think you know about oil?
The Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia [PESA] have an online quiz to test you out. Find out if you really know where oil comes from and where it can take your career.


Geoscience Education Views

Teacher Earth Science Education Programme (TESEP):
Call for funding partners

Jill Stevens, TESEP Founder and Chairperson

In the previous edition of GeoEdLink I introduced TESEP and detailed the issues that stimulated its formation and the mission it has set out to achieve. I am pleased to report that TESEP has now progressed beyond the realms of an idea and is poised to make a real difference in teacher and student geoscience education in Australia. TESEP now has:

  • an advisory board
  • a host organisation to provide TESEP with operational infrastructure (the Australian Science Teachers Association)
  • a group of enthusiastic state coordinators
  • a topical set of dynamic, curriculum linked teacher professional development workshops under development
  • a plan to deliver 'The Challenging Earth' teacher PD workshop series over the next 2 years

TESEP is at the crossroads. The Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia (PESA) has provided seed funding to start TESEP up and has recently provided TESEP with some future funding and funding in kind to keep the program alive but in order for workshops to begin next year additional funding from other partners must be found soon.

Partnerships with industry corporations, institutions & societies are vital for TESEP to continue and to develop. If you are in a position to assist in any way please contact Jill Stevens or Greg McNamara to discuss your participation.

Download a TESEP funding partner flyer here [597kb pdf]...

Jill Stevens
TESEP Founder and Chairperson

EarthCaching: What on Earth is that?
Gary Lewis, Education and Outreach Director
Geological Society of America

EarthCaching is the educational subset of the already popular world-wide GPS-based adventure game of Geocaching. EarthCaches are geocaching sites in which people visit to learn a lesson about the Earth. Unlike traditional geocaching sites, which have a container containing a log book and trinkets, EarthCaches are sites of educational importance at which visitors learn something by reading the web-based notes and undertaking a task while at the site.

EarthCaches take you to all sorts of places

The EarthCaching project was established by the Geological Society of America in 2005 and since then over 1950 sites has been developed around the world. These sites have been visited by over 95,000 people and the number is increasing dramatically each week.

The Geological Society of Australia became involved not long after inception and actively assists with the approval of EarthCaches developed in Australia. There are currently 29 active EarthCaches in Australia (ACT-4, NSW-4, Qld-2, SA-3, Tas-3, Vic-11 and WA-1).

EarthCaching was established after Geological Society members suggested it at a conference. EarthCaching has proved to be a wonderful way to engage and educate people in the community through field experiences and technology.

The EarthCache program also includes a loyalty reward program where people who visit multiple EarthCaches can receive EarthCache Master pins and other materials.

Visit the EarthCache website at to read more about the program and become involved. The site provides all the information you need to find EarthCaches in your area or to get started making your own.


Geoscience Education Events & Activities

Fabulous fossil fun
October school holidays at the Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame kept 1150 young palaeontologists busy in the 'Fascinating Fossils' program workshops and Exploration Zone. Lots of different types of fossils, magnifying glasses and fact sheets kept them busy but learning! To add to the fun they also had the opportunity to create their own fossil out of plaster and to paint the result. Dinosaur teeth and dinosaur 'poo' [coprolites] were popular exhibits.

One of the many fascinating fossils on view

Has your school visited a mine or other site of geological interest?
Has your site been visited by an educational institution?

Here is your chance to let the readers know how good it was, how you made it happen and the learnings that came out of it. Send in a brief report and a group photo and you could be part of a regular feature.

Students in Lab
Pioneer State High School students investigate a working laboratory

Understanding water and groundwater movements is essential.
The Centre for Groundwater Studies is an international cooperative venture that facilitates leading edge groundwater research, education and training.
Visit the CGS web site for details of up coming courses.

2008 is International Year of Planet Earth
IYPE here we come!
Follow this link to find out more about IYPE and this link to browse Australian IYPE events listed so far.

Australian Earth Science Convention, Perth 20-24 July 2008
Last chance to submit a paper or poster. Abstract submission deadline is Tuesday December 11. Support geo-education: attend or give a presentation at the AESC 2008 Geoscience in the Service of Society sessions.

Geotourism conference, Perth 17-20 August 2008
Call for papers, posters, industry exhibition, workshops and participation in the Inaugural Global Geotourism Conference, Perth 2008. Promoting wider community awareness and protection of our geological heritage and geosite attractions.


GeoEdLink is a newsletter published by the Australian Geoscience Council.

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This issue is sponsored by the Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia.
The AGC and the newsletter community appreciate their support.

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